Nine are certified as volunteer managers Md. official tells group about challenges of job

June 23, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

People have been volunteering for years, but a few programs around the country are sprouting up to train and certify people as "volunteer managers."

Nine people from Baltimore City and Carroll and Baltimore counties received their certificates in volunteer management Friday -- the first batch to complete the new yearlong program at Carroll Community College.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was the keynote speaker. She founded the Maryland Student Service Alliance and directed it for more than seven years. The alliance encouraged student voluntarism and led to Maryland being the first state in the country with a student service learning requirement.

She told the nine people, whose jobs are to direct volunteers at places as diverse as Mercy Medical Center and Soldier's Delight Environmental Area, that they face a challenge in attracting and keeping volunteers.

"Now, each person is critical, and you want to be sure you have a message that gets them there and an activity that keeps them there," she said.

Betty Marler, who was among the nine to finish the program, said volunteering is more complicated than it was years ago. For one thing, volunteers should have "service descriptions," the equivalent of a job description, delineating what they do, she said.

"It used to be they'd just walk in and say, 'I want to work,' " said Marler, who directs volunteers at Mercy. "Now, there's a process they have to go through to be volunteers."

In many cases, volunteers need to submit to background checks, especially if they will be working with children or vulnerable adults.

Marler heard about the Carroll program, the only one of its kind in Central Maryland, through the 40-year-old Maryland Council of Directors of Volunteer Services. There is a similar program in Prince George's County.

The Carroll program costs $375. Typically, the fee is paid by the volunteer's organization.

Carroll Community College launched its training program after hearing from representatives of social service agencies in the county about two years ago. The representatives had found that the agencies needed help in setting up formal training for volunteers.

Townsend told the nine who completed the program, along with several others attending a one-day seminar Friday, that volunteering is an American tradition going back to the birth of the nation.

"That was a very different tradition than what happened in Europe," where people expected aristocracy to run things, she said. "When you go to Europe, the concept of volunteerism is still new."

She advised them to be aware of volunteers' top concerns, such as helping children, managing their time and being safe in crime-ridden but needy neighborhoods.

She told them to take any opportunity to use voluntarism as a way to get parents involved with their children, which deters juvenile delinquency.

And she told them to make sure their volunteers know they are appreciated, to use the right words, such as civic responsibility.

"The word 'volunteer' has warm connotations," she said. Meanwhile, words such as "national service, public service and community service" connote requirements and the military, which people don't respond to as favorably, she said.

Townsend said she sees politics as an honorable way to volunteer and urged those at the ceremony to consider running for office.

Several elected officials from the county attended.

"What we need in Carroll County is more volunteers," County Commissioner Richard T. Yates said. "The tax rate is going to go up 27 cents, but can you imagine what it would be if we didn't have volunteers? Especially the fire departments are all volunteers."

Pub Date: 6/23/96

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