Recognition is not something Heart of Missouri Chapter volunteers seek, but this year staff decided to honor every volunteer during a series of Volunteer Appreciation Nights across the 21-county service area.
“Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the chapter and we want them to know how much we appreciate what they do,” said Dave Griffith, the chapter’s executive director. “So instead of having one big appreciation night, which would make it difficult for some volunteers to attend, we decided to go on the road and take our appreciation to them with special nights in different areas of the chapter.”
Volunteer Appreciation Nights have been and are being held on regular volunteer meeting nights and times in April and May.
The first volunteer appreciation night was for those serving in Cole, Osage and Moniteau counties on April 18 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City.
“We are supplying the food and two hours of fun, fellowship and appreciation,” Griffith said. “We planned on having a large response to each of the nights, so even though they are on regular meeting nights and times, some of them are being held in facilities other than where volunteers regularly meet."
“We thought we needed to hold them in places that could accommodate a larger number of people who would be sitting down to a meal.”
Other volunteer nights were scheduled for: April 22 at the Chariton County Ambulance District, 212 South Weber, in Salisbury for volunteers in the northwest area; April 25 at the Knight of Columbus Hall, 201 Jefferson, in Martinsburg for volunteers in Audrain, Montgomery and Callaway counties; May 2 at Christ the King Church, 1700 Bagnell Dam Rd., in Lake Ozark, for volunteers in the Lake area; May 7 at Grace Bible Church, 601 Blue Ridge Rd., Columbia, for Mid-Mo volunteers; and May 9 at First Baptist Church, 801 N. Cedar St., in Rolla for volunteers in the southeast area.
“It is fun being an ‘appreciated’ volunteer,” Bill Wiley posted on the chapter’s Facebook page after the Jefferson City event.
Community partners such as fire chiefs and county emergency management directors also were invited to attend events in their areas.
Invitations were mailed out in early April and were followed up with personal phone calls and emails.
The events begin with 30 minutes of socializing, which includes photo opportunities. A team building exercise is held followed by dinner. The evenings close out with volunteer recognitions.
“We want every volunteer to know they are a valuable member of the chapter team,” Griffith said. “Without them, we simply could not do what the Red Cross does.”