By Sam Stone, Volunteer and Corporate Outreach Manager
This week is National Volunteer Week and we want to take the opportunity to extend a huge thank you to the many groups and individuals who make it a priority to contribute their time and talents in service to Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF). Volunteers are vital to our organization’s success and we could not be more appreciative of their sustained commitment in support of San Francisco youth.
Over the past two years, BGCSF’s volunteer program has looked a little different. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our volunteers showed up for our communities in incredible ways. From donating masks and distributing food to our families who rely on school meals, to participating in virtual tutoring and academic coaching sessions, our volunteer partners helped to develop creative ways to pivot and meet the needs of our communities.
Before the pandemic, our volunteer program involved hundreds of individuals regularly supporting our children and teens onsite at our Clubhouses across the City. We were also fortunate to have thousands more who participated through corporate days of service and other group opportunities. Of course, our commitment to ensuring safety has forced us to scale back our in-person opportunities, but as we recover from the worst of the pandemic, we are beginning to open our doors to volunteers again. We look forward to welcoming back even more old and new faces in the near future.
How do volunteers contribute to BGCSF?
As more volunteers return, we are committed to focusing on areas where our kids need the most support. Mitigating pandemic-related learning loss is an organization-wide priority. Our core group of volunteers spend time at Clubs supporting members academically during Power Hour (dedicated homework time) and with one-on-one tutoring. We are pleased to have welcomed several volunteers back to assist with academics and provide critical one-on-one attention.
Another core part of our program is working with teens. Pre-pandemic, our volunteer program included career exposure visits and mock interviews. During COVID, we pivoted to virtual career coaching and online interviews. Thanks to our volunteers, we were able to not only continue this valuable support during the pandemic — but to identify a way to make our programming more accessible to a greater number of teens. We plan to continue virtual volunteer opportunities for our teens into the future.
Volunteers also contribute to our Sports, Fitness, and Play curriculum. From athletics to outdoor activities, volunteers bring specialized skills that allow our kids to build confidence and acquire new skills. Volunteers come from many neighborhoods, cultures, and backgrounds and provide great impact through listening, caring, and modeling positive adult behaviors.
Who Are Our Volunteers?
There are many ways to make a difference at BGCSF. Incredible individual volunteers participate across all our Clubhouse locations. We are also deeply appreciative of our corporate groups from companies such as McKinsey & Company, Charles Schwab & Co., and Old Navy, among many others. Whether it’s a regular recurring commitment or corporate days of service, we welcome some of San Francisco’s leading companies and specialized talents. For example, Charles Schwab volunteers are passionate about financial literacy and give our members much-needed information and tools needed to build a secure financial future.
One of our most treasured groups of volunteers is the Purple Kumquats! For over 50 years, they have been building and maintaining structures and equipment at Camp Mendocino, our summer camp in Northern California. Former campers Bud Karp, Gino Westcott, and Leroy Sims formed this small group of volunteer tradesmen dedicated to ensuring future generations of Bay Area youth have the benefit of the Camp experience they so treasured in their youth. We cannot thank them enough for their considerable donations of time, skills, and resources to Camp Mendocino.
Established in 2015, the NextGen Leadership Council, is a group of young professionals who are growing our next generation of leaders, advocates, volunteers, and donors. One of our most active groups of volunteers, in the 2020-21 fiscal year NextGen raised more than $285,000, volunteered over 600 hours, and contributed new energy, ideas, and talent to the organization. We thank every one of these young people for the work they are doing to ensure the future success of BGCSF. We always welcome new NextGen members - please contact us to learn more.
As we move forward, we are committed to continuing to advance a volunteer program that highlights the benefits and goals of volunteering. We are also in the process of creating a training program that will help our volunteers better understand the challenges our members have experienced over the past two years.
We are excited to rebuild a diverse and inclusive community of volunteers. This will include individuals who engaged with us previously, but we are also prioritizing outreach to new volunteers, who are reflective of the communities that we support and may have shared experiences to draw upon.
How Can I Get Started?
To learn more about current opportunities, visit https://www.kidsclub.org/get-involved/volunteer or contact me directly at email@example.com.
All volunteers complete an orientation meeting and training session to get better acquainted with the Clubs, the commitment involved, and what being a volunteer entails. As the safety of our members is always our top priority, we require proof of vaccination, a background check, and a character reference.
As we work through the lingering effects of the pandemic, all of us at BGCSF are proud to be part of a network of incredible volunteers, other nonprofits, corporations, and civic and community organizations. We’d also like to thank our Board of Governors who generously commit their time, talent, and financial means to ensure our Club members always have access to our high-quality programs. It is truly this integrated collaboration that allows BGCSF to support San Francisco youth in the best way possible.