Guest Post by Lena Budd, Volunteer Experience Manager at GSWNY
At GSWNY we know how hard every volunteer works towards furthering our mission of building girls of courage confidence and character who make the word a better place. If Covid-19 has shown us anything, it’s how important Girl Scouts and a sense of normalcy is to our lives. Last March the pandemic hit Western New York. We did not get to do many things that traditionally close the year like our volunteer appreciation events at either the Service Unit or the Council level. In April, May, and June we were all still focused on “survival mode,” staying at home, and adjusting to working and schooling remotely. This year we have adjusted more to our “new normal” and many of us are becoming hopeful that there is some light at the end of this tunnel! Getting through Girl Scouts (and life in general!) in 2020 & 2021 had been no small feat! We all deserve to be recognized and appreciated. In Girl Scout speak: you should get a patch for that!
Every April we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Month with extra celebrations on April 22 – National Girl Scout Leader Day! Here are some ideas we have for volunteer appreciation & recognition celebrations for April and the rest of the year:
Hold a virtual celebration
Yes, another Zoom call, but… Make it a fun call! It is a celebration after all! Have all the volunteers in your Service Unit get together for a virtual happy hour or craft night. This past year, the Pittsford Service Unit hosted a holiday gnome making craft party for their volunteers. Similarly, the Iroquois Service Unit volunteers made hot cocoa bombs together via Zoom. You could host a painting night or cook-along, play trivia, bingo, or play other fun virtual games. Plan some fun games or ice breakers at the beginning of the meeting, sprinkle in adult recognition awards throughout the meeting or announce them all at the end of the meeting. Use the chat box and polls to keep participants engaged in the celebration. Sounds like a fun evening to me!
Meet in person
Another fun idea for a volunteer appreciation celebration is holding a socially distanced picnic. First pick a date, then choose a local park or reserve a beautiful GSWNY camp property. To limit interactions, have everyone bring their own food, drink, and picnic blanket or camp chair. Pre-package volunteers’ gifts, awards, pins, or certificates and set them out on a table. Stand in front of the group to award the recognitions and honor the recipients. Wearing masks,
a volunteers then grab their goodies from the table. Liven up the picnic by playing socially distanced games like bingo or charades. Familiarize yourself with all GSWNY COVID meeting guidelines before the event. Masks must be worn at all times unless you are eating or drinking, social distancing must be maintained, and meetings or events are not allowed to take place at private residences or backyards.
A little of Column A, a little of Column B
Remember, not everyone is comfortable meeting in person, and that’s okay! If you host an in-person event, consider doing a porch drop off or recording the award ceremony for those who do not attend. Or hold two volunteer appreciation events – one virtually and one in person. This will give people the option to participate at their own comfort level. I always say, it doesn’t hurt to say thank you more than once in more than one way! Try to think outside of the box! You could drop off volunteer awards or pins to everybody, then open them all together at once on a Zoom meeting. Imagine a great unboxing – how fun!
Other fun ideas for 2021!
Use one of our templates to print or send e-cards to fellow volunteers. Girls can also use these templates to send cards to their leaders! You can download and print or electronically fill in these great cards for younger and older girls. Alternatively, you can craft and mail your own thank you card. Spending a little time on a thank you card can have a big impact on someone’s day! Check out Hallmark’s tips for writing thank you cards.
Surprise volunteers with a gift from the Girl Scout shop! Help bring a smile to someone’s face with a Girl Scout token of appreciation! Use discount code VOLUNTEER2021 from April 1-April 30, 2021 for a one-time 10% discount in the online shop. Get creative and makea cute card or gift for volunteers! Check out our GSWNY Pinterest account for a spark of inspiration!
Shout out the volunteers in your life (including yourself!) on social media. Let your online network of friends and family know how thankful you are to the volunteers in your life. Follow GSWNY and GSUSA all month for great posts, videos, and even Facebook profile picture frames. Like and share to keep the celebration going!