As you scroll through Guidepost, Twitter and Facebook, have you ever been intrigued by the national volunteer postings? If you’re like me, you might think to yourself, who can volunteer for a national position? Do you need many years of Guiding experience, an extra special talent or a secret Trefoil tattoo that shows your dedication to this movement?
Well, after years of looking and lurking around girlguides.ca and checking out the position descriptions, I decided to jump in and find out the secret of these national positions. One thing I have learned from Guiding is if you just try, there’ll be a supportive community of women who will help you along the way. My national volunteer experience proved to be nothing less.
I decided to take the plunge with an opening I saw on the National Scholarships Committee. This was an area where I could merge my professional and Guiding experiences. I have been working in an academic environment for over 10 years, first as a graduate student and more recently as an Assistant Professor, so I have plenty of experience with writing and evaluating scholarship applications! This seemed like a great opportunity for me to check out the national volunteer scene and hopefully make a contribution.
I was really in awe of the other volunteers on the team – professional, energetic women from across Canada with so much passion for Guiding. I really felt like part of a dynamic group. During my time on the scholarship team, I learned a lot about how our national organization works – fundraising, corporate donors, marketing and communications strategies. It was really interesting to see how the various committees and staff work together to create and support a national Guiding program.
I was also struck by the collaboration between staff and volunteers. There are such talented individuals working on the national staff. I really enjoyed the interaction of staff and volunteers on this committee and was able to see the strength of these mixed teams.
During my time on the scholarship committee, there was a shift to an online submission and review process. I felt that I made a contribution to this shift by sharing my experience as a research committee member for the Canadian Lung Association (my “academic volunteering”), where we have an online process for grants and fellowships. Guiding’s new online process has several benefits, of course saving paper (using our resources wisely!) but also opening up the opportunity of reviewing the scholarship applications to Guiders across the country. This has really improved engagement from members and will translate into more girls and women applying for scholarships.
As my term on the scholarship committee ends, I am definitely keeping an eye out for further national and provincial volunteer opportunities. This is a great way to keep broadening my horizons within Guiding. So next time you see a posting on the Guidepost or elsewhere, linger a little longer and think about it… Maybe it’s your next step to contributing and learning from our Guiding community.
By guest blogger Sunita Mathur, a Guider with the 1st Toronto Spark/Brownie/Guide unit.
April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week 2015. Thank you to all of the countless volunteers who make Guiding happen!