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By Blog Master
Posted: 05/02/2021
Volunteer Corner – the Telephone Team

In spite of the fact that the Pasadena Village has been offering up to 80 zoom activities per month (educational programming, support groups, cultural activities, diversity workshops, committee meetings and affinity groups such as a book club, hiking groups, walking groups, and more) the Pasadena Village has only two paid staff. 

Last fall, it became clear that the Village needed to expand capacity without expanding staff. Typical of Village behavior, a group of members, leaders in the Pasadena Village, organized and reached out to other Villages… in California, Oregon, Washington, and Villages as far away as the east coast. Our  questions:  “How do you do it?  Can you share how your Village operates?” 

Great amounts of information were gathered, discussed and analyzed. A few ideas fitting our needs emerged…ideas that  could be modified to fit and possibly be incorporated into our Village at some future time.  But one stood out. It grabbed our attention, particularly those of us involved  with our volunteers. 

My Neighbors is a Village located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Burnsville, North Carolina, a small town and the only incorporated town in the county.  It has no office and no staff.  And yet…it is an active Village and effective in providing services to older adults who make up more than 30% of the population. They have been able to generate the support of volunteers who manage the business of the Village from their own homes by telephone. Linked to a common phone system with access to 10 different homes, they rotate hours on duty, and coordinate the delivery of volunteer services to members from their homes. 

We saw the potential! What would happen if we borrowed this idea and developed it into a project within the Pasadena Village?  Could it reduce the workload for the Village Program Manager?  Would there be other benefits? What would it take to give it a try? 

The Program Manager and our interns, Crystal Hernandez and Anika Renken, worked on turning the concept into an office support system. Seven months after the idea had taken root, Village members who called the Village office were surprised by new voices answering the phone. In April the Telephone Team Support project became operational.  

Consisting of volunteers who are taking on Village telephone duty, this program was designed to provide phone coverage when staff are working on routine or special projects and need distraction-free time to concentrate, or are away from the office to attend to Village business or personal needs. 

In the final design, Telephone Team members are able to work from the comfort of their own homes as telephone calls are rerouted from the Village to the Volunteer’s personal phones.  Guidelines for operation were developed and tested.  A training agenda was created and delivered to each of the telephone volunteers. Work assignments were scheduled for about 2 hours. Now, callers to the Village may get Belinda on the phone.  But it is equally possible, that they will be talking to Volunteers Barbara Madden, Paula Rao, Jenifer Lewis, Leni Fleming or Magy Narinian. 

The team members provide information, help resolve some types of problems like questions about the event calendar or “Where is the zoom link to my meeting?”  They also gather information for report-back to Belinda, including the basic who, what, why, when questions to assist in follow up by the Program Manager.  We also anticipate that areas of involvement for the team members will grow as the project unfolds over time. 

The Telephone Team Project is just one of many demonstrating the involvement and contributions of member and non-member volunteers in the development and implementation  of activities and complex programs at the Pasadena Village.   Ongoing volunteer opportunities abound. 
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