Newark Senior Center Volunteer Team

Area of Impact:

PCN helps to build the capacity of emergent nonprofits in the State of Delaware. We assist managers to design and complete short-term projects that they would otherwise not have the time or resources to do on their own. PCN provides the expertise and person-power that many small nonprofits are simply unable to afford.

Project or Program Specifics:

PCN solicits project proposals from area nonprofits. Members review the proposals and then decide if they are a good match for the current skill-set of the group. If the project seems appropriate, a representative from PCN meets with the nonprofit manager to further define the need and PCN’s ability to help. If PCN accepts the project, a team is assigned to it and a work plan is developed.
PCN is a self-directed team. We conduct ourselves in accordance with a team charter that was developed in the early years of the group’s existence. The group has two officers: a President who facilitates the meetings and acts as the group’s spokesperson and a Secretary who takes meeting minutes. Other members may serve in ad hoc roles if needed. While the volunteer manager of the senior center played a more active role in the group’s development during the initial years, PCN today is entirely self-directed. Decisions of any importance are made by the entire group at regular meetings through a process of consensus.

Team Specifics:

Number of Team members: PCN’s membership averages around 8 to 12 members and will vary a good bit during the year due to health problems and the work schedules.

Team has been together for: 6 years

Recruitment techniques:

Membership in PCN is open to anyone willing to put their skills to use in helping a nonprofit. While many members have specialized professional skills the most important characteristic we look for in a new member is an interest is curiosity and a willingness to learn new things. The membership of PCN has remained fairly consistent since its inception. Many of the current and past members have heard about the group through membership in the Newark Senior Center, however, some members were also referred from RSVP, the State Office of Volunteerism and online volunteer opportunity clearinghouses.

Team Activities:

The entire PCN membership meets on a bi-weekly basis. At these meetings members working on different projects will report on the progress they are making and solicit advice from other members regarding the challenges they are encountering. The status of a project as either active, inactive or completed is determined by the assigned team in consultation with the entire group. Once a project is completed the appropriate organizational contact is asked to complete a project evaluation. These evaluations are reviewed by the entire membership.

Team accomplishments:

Over its 6 year history, PCN has completed close to 20 projects with very positive evaluations from the organizations being assisted. In 2011 the group received a Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award from the Delaware State Office of Volunteerism.

Lessons Learned:

1. Retired professionals enjoy working on short-term projects that they have had a hand in designing themselves and can easily fit into their busy schedules.
2. The skills and energy of retired professionals can enable emergent nonprofit managers get work done that would otherwise never be accomplished.
3. Self-directed team model is an excellent structure for supporting retired professionals to continue contributing to their communities

Next Steps:

Continuing to grow and increase our capacity.