More than 150 people representing nonprofits and volunteerism in Delaware heard from speakers and panels March 23 at Dover Downs Hotel on celebrating inclusion and diversity, targeted volunteer recruitment, data collection for impact, how to turn volunteers into employees, board members and donors, volunteer background checks, and fundamentals of grant writing. In the session on Celebrating Service, Inclusion and Diversity, DHSS employees Alyssa Cowin, who has a disability, and Richard Huber, who supports more than 20 volunteers through the Division for the Visually Impaired, said it's important to be flexible in order to attract and retain volunteers. Marilyn Siebold, a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Delaware, said volunteering gives people with a mental illness more confidence, reduces their feelings of isolation and builds on their motivation to feel better. She called it the "psychological paychecks that people get." Nicole Oidick with Easterseals Delaware & Maryland's Eastern Shore said the nonprofit has a variety of volunteer opportunities for people of all abilities.
In the morning, Dr. Andrea Taylor, a consultant and life coach from Philadelphia, gave the keynote address on how nonprofits can attract and team up volunteers of different age cohorts by understanding what motivates each generation. "Find out what resonates with them," she said. "What hits their heart."
The 2017 Delaware Volunteer Conference finished with attendees assembling BLESSING BAGS with donated items that will benefit the homeless at Code Purple shelters in Delaware. Volunteer Delaware partnered with the Jefferson Awards Foundation to complete this service project.
The 2017 Conference on Volunteerism was sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Services, the Division of State Service Centers, the State Office of Volunteerism and the Delaware Association of Volunteer Administrators.