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

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