FROM SIMONE – Before being a Son-Rise Program Mom, I had experience as a teacher, as well as, a trainer for a loyalty marketing agency, so it is no surprise that in my role directing my son’s Son-Rise Program, I would be attracted to recruiting and training volunteers. During the six years I have been running my son’s Son-Rise Program and actively participating in The Son-Rise Program community around the world, recruiting and training volunteers is an area that gets a lot of discussion. I thought I would share a bit of my experience so far…what has worked or hasn’t worked for us, which I thought could be useful to everyone.

BELIEVE that you will find volunteers!
You will hear this word throughout The Son-Rise Program community and it is written in The Son-Rise Program Start-Up Manual, so it should always come first in any of your Son-Rise Program lists: BELIEVE! One might say that “believing I will get volunteers doesn’t make any difference if there aren’t any out there.” and I say “believing does matter because you cannot find what you’re not looking for. When you don’t believe volunteers are out there, you simply will not see potential volunteers all around you, which will lead us to the next point…
Volunteers are not “ready-made”.
YOU inspire and motivate your volunteers to be exactly what you want them to be in your child’s Son-Rise Program through your training, your knowledge, your enthusiasm and your feedback. With a dedicated training plan, anyone physically able and committed can be an excellent Son-Rise Program volunteer!

Go for attitude and character…not expertise.
When recruiting a Son-Rise Program volunteer, the least important thing is an extensive curriculum and loads of experience. Actually, in my experience, a volunteer with less experience has been incredibly open to new ideas and to move with your feedback rather than to question The Son-Rise Program principles against their own knowledge, experience and background.

Check your attitude and your beliefs.
It’s a wonderful thing that someone wants to volunteer to work with your child and we obviously have all the reason in the world to be grateful to them, but watch out for the belief that you owe them a favor and therefore you must do as they say, because they are helping you. The healthiest way to see the volunteer is that there is a mutual relationship where two entities that come together to learn from this very special child, you are both being enriched by the experience and having the blessing of your relationship too, learning from each other. The best thing you can do for your Son-Rise Program and your child is be assertive as to what you want for your Son-Rise Program and your child and be very clear about the way you want the it to run…without compromises. Being true to yourself and what you want for your child is the best way of being grateful to your volunteers’ commitment and their time.

Become a Son-Rise Program volunteer yourself!
You might say “Well, I hardly have time to run my child’s Son-Rise Program.” By volunteering in another Son-Rise Program, you will see how good it feels to volunteer in a Son-Rise Program playroom and how much can be gained from it. This experience will help you immensely in understanding your volunteers’ perspectives; and in being comfortable and assertive while setting clear expectations for your Son-Rise Program.

Create an atmosphere where people want to come back to you…or most importantly stay.
As part The Son-Rise Program, we have the amazing resource of The Option Process, the philosophy that originated The Son-Rise Program. Some people pay for therapy or counseling sessions to be heard. During the volunteer interview, I present this amazing world of being non-judgmental, respecting each other, being heard and asking non-judgmental questions. I show them that while working for us, they will live that love and acceptance every time they step through the door.

A picture (or a family’s inspiring story) is worth a thousand words.
A fellow Son-Rise Program Mom has developed an application form which explains The Son-Rise Program in detail. You, too, can easily make one to send to future applicants. There are several resources available to help your future volunteers understand what The Son-Rise Program is all about – the website, YouTube videos, testimonials and parents’ stories (endless amazing stories that The Son-Rise Program community can’t get enough of), the Autism Solution video, this blog and The Son-Rise Program’s Facebook Fan page. Recently, a volunteer that I hired told me that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a part of The Son-Rise Program, but when I gave her a copy of Jade’s documentary to watch, she called me the next day saying she really wanted to work with my son. Sometimes pictures speak louder than words!

Look for agencies that can help you find volunteers.
There are innumerous agencies and charities who will help you find volunteers. I find students are always very interested in learning and experimenting. I love drama students because they are so expressive in the playroom and the amount of imagination and improvisation they have to use makes the job very appealing to them. Look for drama schools and see if you can have a demonstration to talk to students. Ask for some time at your church or community center to show a Son-Rise Program video; or hold a street party with treats, music and organize a screening of a Son-Rise Program video; ask your local paper/radio station to put in an ad for you; or post the volunteer position on a job posting website.

A note about “paid” volunteers.
If you would like to pay your volunteers for their time or to help them with their transportation costs, consider doing fundraising to help cover the costs of paying them. Perhaps, if they are students, it would be interesting for them if you paid their tuition to attend The Son-Rise Program sequence or have an Option Process Dialogue with a Certified Option Process Mentor/Counselor.

Embrace your volunteers as your new family!
Welcome your volunteer into your home and create a fun place to be so that they want to come back. You will be investing a lot in their training so you really want them to stay. But how do you train them? Well that is the subject of my next blog…

Have fun looking for volunteers out there and see the potential in everyone. Marvel at the diversity of human beings and learn how enriching it can be to have completely different people in your Son-Rise Program!

I WANT YOUR COMMENTS! Feel free to share any ideas or resources that you’ve discovered to help recruit your volunteers!

Simone

Facebook Comments

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Simone!! As always, you are full of great info & tips!!! Hugs xoxoxo ~Jen Jackson

  • I love that Simone, what a great piece. The only note I would add is if you think your volunteer doesn't cut the mustard (after you have put time into them), don't be shy at bringing it up and if changes aren't made, turfing them out. It is much better in the long run for you, your child and the volunteer. A friend once said to me "the first time you teach, the second time you remind the third it is attitudinal".
    Love,
    Rekha
    (Son-Rise Mum and Option Process Mentor-Counsellor)

  • I was told that there was a link for anyone looking to find local opportunities to volunteer in a program, but I cannot find such a link… I am in central Ohio, I have seen the program, read a lot and talked to a family with a program in place. The experience of working a program could be invaluable with my current education degree. Thanks for any help…

  • Thank you so much, Simone, for such valuable information! I am currently actively seeking volunteers, and I am grateful for these tips, especially the one about volunteers are not "ready-made".

    I look forward to your blog about the training… 🙂

    With love,
    Kim

  • Ludmilla Tavares

    Simone, I find very difficult when volunteers call me and ask : Where are you from?? ( cause of my accent) or when they are "afraid" of volunteering when you start to talk on the phone explaining what is the Son Rise Program. Also, Do you believe that everyone is trainable?? That is my question. Thanks

  • Thank you for the kind comments everyone! I am honoured to share with such delightful families as you are!

    Ludmilla, as you probably know, I am Brazilian and English is not my first language. In my experience everybody who has ever talked to me, not just in a hiring situation, but in any situation, will ask where I am from, whenever I open my mouth. Most of the time the intent is merely curiosity or even just trying to make conversation, it's important that when someone asks you this question in a situation that you are interviewing prospect volunteers that you take it literally and don't attach any meaning to it, if you judge yourself as in for example, they might be asking it because your English is no good or if you judge them thinking they think my English is no good, you will stablish a relationship with them based on a judgement that it might not be true. If you trust that you are the best resource for your child and the best expert on your child you need not be an expert in English, your English sounds excellent to me by the way, but in general, I think foreign families need not worry about training volunteers who are native speakers. The more you believe in yourself the more they will believe in you too. If someone says to me they would be afraid of working with my child I again would just ask them why, to uncover their belief and actually show them that it is a Program that will bring out love and happiness in their lives, and help them as well as helping your child and that most of all they would have fun. If they seem hostile about the Son-Rise Program or your nationality I wouldn't want to hire them anyway. You want to be surrounded by loving people who will love you and accept you as you are, not people who will judge you for having an accent or being from another Country, such people I wouldn't have it as a friend so I wouldn't have it as my son's friends either. I believe everyone is trainable in terms of technique, 3E's for example, being creative for example, these are techniques you can train people on, but only a person can change their own beliefs, you can guide them asking non-judgemental questions or giving them knowledge but if, for example, they are stuck in a belief that they are not creative you won't be able to help them unless they change their mind about it, you can try your best though.

  • Thank you Kim, in my experience my volunteers slowly blossomed, nobody was ready from the start, if you think about ourselves we were not ready from the start, since my Start-Up I have been growing and learning with each Program and outreach and sharing with other Parents. It's important however not to judge yourself as in I was doing it wrong and now I am doing it right, I see my Program as a scenario of constant evolution and growth, just like my child, actually the time I was the most inexperienced was the time he showed the most impressive growth as I was starting and had loads of enthusiasm, fresh from the Start-Up, never underestimate the power of enthusiasm, it is always bigger than knowledge.

  • Hi DHarmon, have you checked the message board here at this website, also you can try putting a note on the Autism Treatment Center of America Facebook Page as Parents from all over the World follow it, good luck and thank you for being a volunteer, it's such an incredible experience. Your post here also offers families reading it an example of how volunteers exist and they are out there looking for a family!

  • Thank you Rekha, I totally agree, I have never been afraid of letting go of volunteers if I thought for any reason they were not benefitting my Program. Sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of "But I've invested so much in them" and letting a person stay in your Program, but in my experience nobody can gain with the situation as the person stuck in a belief won't grow and learn, your child won't grow and learn, it can affect your mood and the entire Program so not worth it at all. The whole team has to move in one direction as a machine, if there's a piece in the machine not willing to move, the whole system gets stuck!

  • Thank you everyone for reading and commenting much love to you all and your beautiful children. I hope you all manage to build a team who will share with you this amazing experience that is the Son-Rise Program Love, Simone

  • Thanks Jen, thanks for your support! Love, Simone

  • DHarmon in Central Ohio… I would LOVE to talk to you. I am running a program in Toledo. This may be too far for you? But maybe not?!! I also know some families in the Columbus area who may be searching for volunteers. How wonderful that you are reaching out and searching for a family to join!! You can contact me on Facebook if you'd like to communicate further. Just let me know who you are. 🙂

    Colleen Falke Errington

  • Ludmilla Tavares

    Thank you Simone. I found an amazing volunteer and our team is getting even stronger…Lost of Love xoxo Ludmilla

  • That's great Ludmilla cheering you from England! Lots of love xxx

  • Hi, Simone, how is your child now? I'm in English running Son rise with my son, it will be very nice to exchange experience.

  • Dear Simone,
    I only recently became aware of the Son-Rise Program and have an introductory packet on its way to me. First, I do not have an autistic child and cannot begin to imagine the challenges and despair those parents must go through. I am currently looking for a family in my area to work with. As if the parents don't have enough to do, taking the time to train volunteers, then realizing they are not a good match must be an exhausting repeat uphill battle. Do you think it would be of assistance to parents if someone trained in the Son-Rise program, recruited volunteers in advance with a questionnaire, some preliminary information and training for a fee from the volunteer? Perhaps this would eliminate fair-weather volunteers and bring in only serious inquiries. This is what I would like to do with my Son-Rise training. Blessings on all your endeavors with your child.

  • Hi Simone, Hi everyone.
    I'm currently looking for volunteers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
    I tried at the supermarket, internet, friends and well, no much look. I keep looking for it.
    Even specialists want to work with ABA only.
    Any ideas? Does anyone knows an Au Pair who likes to work with my 4 1/2 daughter?
    Volunteers willing to travel? Live-in? etc.
    Many thanks and have a wonderful Christmas!

  • Appreciate tis post. Will try it out.