Creating A Successful Volunteer Program That Will Make You Proud

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Hi, and welcome to EM Student, and this is your host, Todd DeVoe, speaking. And today, I want to share with you a speech that I did for an organization over at the American Red Cross regarding volunteer management and volunteer programs. The audio is not my favorite, although I decided I want to share this with you because I think, as students, you have to realize, number one, the potential starting out as a volunteer. And then number two, that you will, at some point, in your career as emergency managers have some volunteer management opportunities. Or, if you are not managing the volunteers directly, you will be working with volunteers in some capacity, so I think it’s important for you to understand this. So let me know what you think about the speech here on volunteer management and enjoy.

[TODD DEVOE] Alright. Well, thank you for having me here today. And one of the things I really am passionate about our volunteers. And it is fitting that I am here at the American Red Cross, talking about the volunteer programs. So, normally, I don’t spend a lot of time on my– about me, especially when I get an introduction. But I think the big thing here I want to share and point out is, I started my career as a volunteer firefighter, in upstate New York. And if you guys don’t know much about New York, everybody thinks New York City, and it’s really about that big, compared to New York State, which is about that big. And I’d say somewhere around 90% of the fire departments in New York State are volunteer, including Long Island. And the cool part about it is you get a lot of good training, you have a lot of good equipment. You shouldn’t get paid to do what you do, but you learn a lot.

And so, volunteers and service to the community is really a big part of who I am and who I was brought up to be. Just like anything back East, it’s all family business, right? And everybody in my family– I shouldn’t say everybody, but the majority of my family has been involved in the volunteer fire service, or law enforcement service in general, and this is kind of what we’re about here. And this is why I think with volunteers, especially with emergency management, programs are really important, and I think you’re going to find that those who get involved in volunteer programs, especially emergency management-type stuff, they’re going to be very dedicated.

And one of the things I will tell you about volunteers, that I think is interesting is, when I was working for the Seal Beach police department, we would have something going on, and we would have a handful of police officers just saying, “Hey guys, stand over there, we don’t really need you yet. Take some coffee and just stand by.” And these guys, they carry on, they go to the setting area and they drink coffee and hang out. But the volunteers you get, we need your bodies for sure, we don’t know what we’re going to do with you yet, so go drink coffee until we’re ready for you.

And like my five-year-old, every 30 seconds you’re over, “Hey, do you need me now?” “No, not yet, stand over there.” “Ok, do you need me now?” “No, not yet.” They’re so eager to work for you, it’s unbelievable. So, some of the programs that I established here, I made a point, when I first got hired down there, we were creating a CERT program by the– the city council directed it. So you would have a CERT program. We created the program, and one of the things I did do is I put a lot of hoops for people to jump through to be volunteers. And I wasn’t even sure everybody was going to go through all these hoops. I added CS100, CS200, CS700, ICS800, all these online classes. And then behold, a lot of people show up, so yeah, we did it. And so, we started this volunteer program, very small.

And later on, about six months after we created the program datapoint, we had the Santiago Canyon Fire that burned, I don’t know if you guys remember that fire or not. And we were activated. I’ll tell a quick little story on that. I was up at the emergency operation center, I was working as the planning section chief. It’s very small, I started off in the evening, around 6 o’clock at night, and so I was up there around 1 o’clock in the morning, somewhere around there. We knew that we were behind on personnel, we didn’t have enough personnel. If you remember during this fire season, we had a bunch of fires already burning up North, and we had a bunch of people that were going up. And so, the battalion chief who was sitting in the room, Chief Roberts, looked Donna Boston the Orange County emergency operations manager and said to her, “Hey, can you guys activate that CERT program I know about?” Donna looked at me and said, “Hey, can you guys activate that CERT program that you guys have?”

And at the time, we just created this organization called CMAP, which is the CERT Mutual Aid Program. And so, we hadn’t done anything before. It was very fresh, it was a brand-new organization. I think, at the time, there were seven or eight cities that were involved with it, so I said, “I don’t know, let’s make it happen.” So, at two o’clock in the morning, I picked up my phone, and I called up Brenda Emrick from Costa Mesa Fire Department and said, “Hey Brenda, we are going to activate the CERT program.” And she’s like, “Shut up! It’s not funny!” I’m like, “I’m not joking! This is what we’re doing.” She’s like, “I’m calling my chief at 2 o’clock in the morning, this better be real.” I’m like, “Brenda, I’m up here, sitting next to Donna Boston, we’re activating it, this is the real deal.” And 5 o’clock in the morning, we had 65 volunteers ready to do. And that’s what I’m talking about volunteer programs, why they’re so inspiring and why they’re so important.

So, another thing, talking about the CERT program and some of the activations that we went through. And then, I was the coordinator for the West County CERT program, which is six cities, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Buna Park, Westminster La Palma, and– what did I miss? Cypress. Right? And there are six cities that make up the West County CERT program. And the cool point about that program there is that it really inspired modern cities to combine, such as the North County CERT program, which is Fullerton, (unintelligible 00:05:52.02), and– oh my gosh, I’m screwing up. Fullerton, Brea, and Yorba Linda, are part of that program up there. So that’s kind of cool, what they’ve done.

And so, the cool part about the CERT mutual aid program, and there are two West county CERT and the North County CERT programs, is that they’ve actually inspired nationwide, and we’ve gone and spoke in front of Congress, specifically, about the CMAP program, the we put together program, we shared that program nationwide, it’s one of the first ones that we’ve actually put into play here, with the fire department, it’s part of their activation plan now. So volunteers are that impactful on the programs here, that we’re changing the way people are looking at how they use volunteers.

And also, not just the CERT programs, I also helped out coordinate the VIPS program, the volunteer police services program, and also a part of Team Rubicon leadership from 2013 to 2018, just a few months ago, I stepped down. And so, the reason why I share this here, is that’s how I see volunteer programs. Not just as a coordinator who is paid to be there, but also as a volunteer myself, in some of the aspects. I’ve gone out there and making sure that public safety is really upfront. So, what are we going to discuss today? We are going to discuss what is a volunteer. And it sounds funny because when I look at the data, with public service volunteers, but it’s a little more deep than that.

How to design a volunteer position? And it really is a position, it’s just, “Hey, you’re going to be a volunteer.” They really have to have a job description associated with it. Volunteer recruitment, interviewing and placement, training the volunteer, motivation, recognition. And so, volunteers are actually an employee team. Because a lot of these organizations, even the Red Cross, Team Rubicon, Salvation Army, they all have volunteers and paid staff, right? Toyota, when they were here in Torrance, they actually had a really robust volunteer CERT program that they used. We have a volunteer CERT program at Saddleback College

And then, one of the things we talk about too is your volunteer program scorecard, which is your report card, that you should keep on yourselves, and then the volunteers lights. And this is a sample. You can put it on, but you want to make sure that they know what they’re doing, so what they have the right to do, and what they don’t have the right to do. Give that really nice outline for how they’re going to operate.

So what is a volunteer? Well, a volunteer is someone who gives their time for free. That’s the basic definition. They may have jobs, so you have to be respectful of the fact that they have jobs, or they may not. They might be using this as an opportunity for them to get into a new position. Right now, I have a volunteer who is working for me, he is a retired Marine Corp First Sergeant, he wants to become an emergency manager, so he is doing work for me. Because it’s kind of funny because when we are chit-chatting, we realize that we shared some of the same experiences back when I was in the– we crossed paths a lot of times but never knew each other, and now we– you know?

And so, they’re looking for experience. And those are kind of the motivational factors of why we have a volunteer come into our space. And so, recognizing what are volunteers and what they’re getting out of it is really important for you to really put in the back of your mind. So you start doing motivation for them to be here. Why are so many giving up their time for free? It really kind of lays down what they’re here for. But a volunteer is not here for the menial labor right? It’s a person– you’re giving them the undesirable jobs, you know. “Hey, Susan, thanks for volunteering. By the way, you’re going to clean out the bathrooms.” Right? You know, that’s not what their job is to do, right? They are ready to get some sort of experience for themselves, and so, they’re going to want to do something that’s not just filing or doing whatever. Find a job for them that matters, right?

And that person isn’t somebody you can use to cut back. And I put up here Union issue

specifically, but you see these workplace issues. You can’t cut a position and then throw in a volunteer. That’s not what the volunteer is for. It’s not to supplant, it’s to support. And that’s where you’ve got to take a look at it. And that person, you need to treat them as equal to staff. They’re not lesser than, right? Just because they’re not getting paid– as a matter of fact, in some cases, you should treat them better, right? Because they aren’t getting paid, they’re putting their time in for you. So make sure you’re planning. So, you want to assess your organizational climate. What does your organization look like right now, and how does it feel about things? Before you start popping into a volunteer program. Can your organization support that program? You really have to figure that out first. And once you get a yes on that, then you can go down to the next thing.

Assessing your personal needs. And again, like I said, you’re not supplanting a position, right? You shouldn’t use a volunteer to supplant a position, right? It’s not there to make your bottom-line look better, ok? The volunteers are going to support that position, support that personnel. And what is the mission of the personnel that you want supported? And thing about like, hospitals, right? Hospitals have great volunteer programs. The candy striper programs, for girls who want to become– I say girls, sorry. For anybody who wants to become, versus back in the day, as it was girls. You know, or the people, the senior volunteers that work at the front desk, that check you in. If you’re looking for something, that’s a really good program. They’re not supplanting anybody, you’re not going to a nurse, going, “Hey, we’re going to cut your position, we’re going to have a candy striper come in and start filling med orders,” right? It doesn’t work that way in hospitals. That’s the way that you have to think of it.

Support and commitment from the employees. Sometimes, employees get really nervous about volunteer programs, and you see this in the fire department, right? The fire department hates – and I say this with– they might not say it publicly, but if you talk to any fire fighter individually, and start talking about reserve programs, it just really kind of burns them there, right? Because they think that they’re supplanting positions with the reserves. Are they? Debatable. But say, you want to make sure that the climate is good, that those volunteers are going to be treated well, right? And then, you want to have commitment from your board, whether it’s the bosses, the board of directors, or like in cities, the city council. The support from those groups. That’s what you’re looking for as well.

So, the volunteer job design. I think it’s really important to understand that you are creating a position. So anybody here have HR experience? None? Ok, a little bit. You create a position just like you would at HR. Job title, description of the jobs, what the outcomes are supposed to be for that job. You want to create that job description, right? And designing a volunteer job description with the volunteer in mind. Not that you already have a person, but what you think their capabilities are. So again, you’re not goign to design a volunteer doctor position and say, “Ok, on Thursdays, you’re going to do an open-heart surgery, that’s what you’re volunteering for.” Unless, obviously, you’re Doctors Without Borders, that’s what they do, right?

So, understanding what you want them to do and what skill set you’re trying to get them to do. And then you want to have policies and procedures, right? And the reason why you’re creating policies and procedures is you give them the outline to work within. Right? Because without policies or procedures, how do you know what they’re doing, why they’re wrong, right? There is a process, sometimes, or terminating volunteers, ok? And that’s not as easy as you think it is. They do actually have some legal work rights within the state of California, they just don’t get compensated. And there’s a city here in Orange County that has actually sued for unlawful termination when they let go of a volunteer.

So, because they were outside of– didn’t have policies and procedures for that volunteer, right? I thought it was kind of weird that the guy decided to sue, but he did, and they worked things out. But he didn’t sue for money, he just wanted his job back. That was the weird part about it. So, that’s really why you need to have policies and procedures. Going back to the gentleman who sued, you really want to have a good recruitment and interview process, of understand who you’re getting, right? What their jobs are going to be, and do they fit that culture you have set up? And one of the things that I did when I was at Seal Beach for our VIPS program, is we had a leadership, right? The volunteer leaders. And we had two of them sit on our interview panel. So they were choosing their peers. They were going through the process, they were going, “Ok, this is who we want, they’re going to fit the culture,” have a series of questions just like you would at any other job, right? And it’s weird because we’ve turned volunteers away. I’ve turned more volunteers away, actually, then have accepted to our programs, understanding how they fit the culture, right?

In your advertising and marketing program, how do you get out there and do it? One of the things that we would like to do is have city events, such as the national night out, or health fair, things like these, we’d actually have a booth set up, volunteers are recruited out there, just like they would be recruiting having more people come in and getting that volunteer pool going on. So many ways that we included volunteers as well is we had train programs that were established, such as the CERT program, the basic Acadey, if you will. We have the citizen’s police academy. Things like that, that were just– they’re open to the public, anybody can come. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to volunteer when you take the class. The work that we do is, we find the people that look like they are going to fit the culture, have the skill sets that we wanted, and went up there and did the individual ask. And said, “Hey, would you like to be part of our volunteer program?” Some of them will just– also, just to the process, applied for it. But that’s how we recruited as well, right?

And then, again, recruit for  special skills, you know? If you know what you want to have, if you have people that have, say, I need computer skills, and you have somebody who has that skill set, ask that person to be part of your program and how that would work, right? Some are short-term volunteers, some are long-term volunteers. You know, every year, Seal Beach would do a tax program, over at the leisure residents, and they would have a whole bunch of volunteer former CPA’s, things like these, for that tax season, would set up and the leisure world club houses and do taxes for everybody for free. And that was just for a short-term period, between January and end of April, for that. So if you think about this.

And then we talk about cyber-volunteers. Now that we’re really connected worldwide, right? You can have volunteers that do cyber work. And we have, for example, a volunteer doing cyber-work on the back there, who is still doing cyber-work, right?

So, talking a little bit about this and about the five principals of your recruitment, so you really want to go for those that are already volunteers. And the interesting part about it is that you get people who volunteer for multiple agencies, right? So like a CERT program, we have a lot of people who are CERT members who are also American Red Cross members, who are RACES members, which is the communications people. Who are also part of the hospital communications group, you know? So they have their irons in a lot of fires, because we’re looking for that enjoyment of the volunteer aspect of it. So you can find, you know, I don’t want to say steal volunteers from other agencies, but you can find good volunteers that are people who are already volunteering.

And then also, people tend to volunteer in groups. Friends get friends to volunteer, stuff like this. So those are a type of the recruitment as well. And then you also want to be upfront with your volunteer. Of what expectation is coming from them. Because there is a cost associated with having volunteers. The training that you have to go through, to do different things, uniform service, the books that cost to put tabs, specifically, for your volunteers. The paperwork that’s associated with it, the fingerprints that we have to do with our volunteers’ background checks, things like these. So those are costs associated with it. So you want to make sure that you’re picking quality people to come into your program, right?

So we talked about the interviewing process, right? How is the application that you want to do? Whether it’s a typical job application, you can put “volunteer” on top of it, that’s pretty much what we did. So it’s the same application you would fill out if you wanted to work any other city job in Seal Beach, except there’s volunteer on top. Same information, same questions.

There are some legalities with some of the information that you can ask, you can’t ask about income, that type of stuff. But in general, it’s going to be the same application. And again, the interview process, we talked about that. And then selection of placement. So, when you find that volunteer, right. So ok, we’re going to have you come on board, but this is what we want you to do, these are the jobs that are available for you. And we had a situation with a volunteer of police services over there that we had volunteer crossing guards that we, as the agency, had the crossing guard position, we had to put these volunteers there. And there were actually people that were like, “No, I didn’t sign up to be a crossing guard, I want to do this.” And we’re like, “Ok, then we can’t use you, thank you for being here,” that’s what I’m talking about as far as termination goes. You just say, “We can’t use you anymore, this is what we have, this is the hole that we have to fill.”

And one of the things that I really stress to our volunteers is that’s mission first, right? It’s not agency first, it’s mission first. What mission do we need to accomplish? And we can move you around later on, but today, this is the mission that we have to do. If you don’t want to do it, then we don’t need you. And you just upfront with them. And so, then it goes into a volunteer agreement, you have them sign it, they understood the rules and regulations of what’s going on, and they understand that anytime, that can be terminated for whatever reasons

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] So you have volunteer application, do you do any background checks?

[TODD DEVOE] Well, with the police department, 100%. We do interviews, then we go background checks, we do check the references, and then we also do a life scan.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] is that illegal?

[TODD DEVOE] No. Anything we can do for a regular employee, we should do it for a volunteer. What would be different is if we didn’t do any of that for a regular employee, if we didn’t do background check on a regular employee and we did it on a volunteer. That’s where you kind of get into some legal aspects of it. But I think 99.9% of the people do some sort of background check, whether it’s just simple DOJ check or whatever, with fingerprints. It is critical with our departments, because we work in sensitive areas that you can’t go through. And it’s weird, we’ve had people apply to be a volunteer at the police department that had warrants out for arrest. And we caught them through the background check. So it’s like, “Huh.”

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Aren’t they surprised when that happened?

[TODD DEVOE] A little bit yeah. A little bit, yeah, they are. Yeah. Yeah, “Come here, we want to talk to you. By the way, you’re under arrest.” So yeah, that was kind of interesting. Now we’re going a little bit into orientation and training. And you should treat them just like they were any other employee. Have a volunteer orientation night, where they come in, learn about your system, what they’re at, what their position is in there, what their function is in the organization, how the organization functions. Yes, ma’am.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] is the orientation the same for volunteers as employees?

[TODD DEVOE] The orientation portions? Obviously, it) could be more general. You know, it could be like, “Hey, yeah, we do this.” And during orientation it’s like, we do this, but this is going to be your function, specifically, in that job, what a volunteer is supposed to do. Job training, you know, do you have positions that needed to show job training? So, for instance, in our CERT program, our Community Emergency Response Team program, we have a specific job training over and above the basic CERT. So we come through, we have what’s called the CMAP training and the CERT mutual aid training, that all volunteers go through. Some of them go on to additional training, such as the trailer team training, some of them go on to some medical training. So whatever position that they’re going to be doing, they might need additional training associated with that, and that’s what we do as well. And then continued education. So, one of the things that we do with our volunteers is, every month, we have a volunteer meeting, and then during that time, we give them some additional training, specifically to what their general function is. You know, we do like, say, sandbags or something like that, so everybody would have some input on it, instead of just trailer training, we put you in with the trailer team.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] What do you think about developing (unintelligible 00:21:55.26) volunteers? Do you have a distribution length, and then (unintelligible 00:22:01.17) all of them? (unintelligible 00:22:05.12).

[TODD DEVOE] Sure. So, I’m going to repeat the question for the mic. So the question is, we need to develop a list of volunteers, and how do you keep in contact with them. Well, there are many different ways to do it. So obviously, in the emergency services side of things, we have our alert system, so we created a bucket of volunteers that go inside there for call-ups. So, we push one button and we can call the team. For training, we have some leadership roles that are associated within the organization, so our administration person, she was responsible for making sure e-mails were sent, those kinds of communications– routine communications were done. And then for those that kind of fall off the radar, because it happens sometimes. You know, the volunteers just kind of stop showing up, and we have their phone number to call them and say, “Hey, are you still interested in being a volunteer or is there something going on that we can help you with?” You know, stuff like that. So we do have routine communication as well, through the list. So we have a file, a personal file. You know, with all the information, emergency contact, like you would with any other employee.

So, after you’re part of the problem, how do we keep our volunteers involved? Right? It goes back to the story originally when you have a paid employee, sometimes the recognition is just the money that they get, the paycheck, and they’re happy with that, and they’re happy to go on. But for a volunteer, they’re doing it for other reasons. And so, I think with the motivation part of it, there’s various different ways of doing it. One is making sure that they understand that they are really an appreciated member of the team and treat them as so. And I will try to tell my volunteers on a regular basis how much I do appreciate them, just one-on-one, like, in the hallway, like, “Hey Susan, thank you so much for being here today.” Simple as that. Sometimes, that’s enough.

And then, looking at those who are leaders in the organization, and those who go above and beyond, you can do other recognition. And one of the things that we did is we tracked our volunteers’ hours, right? So every hour they put in, and then there’s the presidential volunteer awards. And so, it doesn’t cost the organization anything, you submit the hours to them, they process the stuff, and they’re going to send you a pin, the volunteer gets a cool little letter, which is very nice, in the mail, signed by the president. I think it’s auto-signed, but still, signed by the president, and they get a little pen. It’s probably about that big in real life, it’s not that big. So you get a little pin that you can put on the little (unintelligible 00:24:20.15), and says, (unintelligible 00:24:22.07). And after you’ve done so much and so on, they can give you a bigger plaque and stuff like these.

So, it started by President Bush, the first one, and it’s 1,000 points. And this is part of the program there, so it’s still going on, still going strong. And any volunteer organization can do it, as long as they’re giving back to the community. So that’s really easy to do. I would do regular evaluations, right? And so, just like any other employee, you have an evaluation form, tell them what they’re doing good, tell them what they’re doing bad, keep track of that, and then give them an eval, like they would with any other employee. And then we’re going to talk about the recognition of employees.

And what we did is, we combined our recognition of our employees, our regular law enforcement officers, firefighters, public safety employees, such as lifeguards, and CSOs, we’re recognized those guys are being paid to do their job in public, we also recognize our volunteers in public in the exact same ceremony, we didn’t hold a separate ceremony for them. So, the volunteer of the year for CERT got their plaque and their time in the spotlight in the exact same time as the police officer of the year, the fire fighter of the year, the lifeguard of the year, had their award. So, treated just like any other employee. So I think that’s really important. So if you’re going to recognize your employees on a banquet, recognize your volunteers at that same banquet, that’s my recommendation too.

And then there is bridge building, right? Building that gap between the volunteer and the paid employee. Because sometimes, the paid employee, number one, feels superior. And I understand why, right? Because they’re paid in the process, they’re there, I’m the boss, right? Not necessarily, but that’s kind of what they feel sometimes. And so, you want to be able to build a relationship. And we do that again by having barbeques, things like these, including supporting and giving recognition to our employees, we support and give recognition to our volunteers. We will have the volunteers working hand in hand with our employees, in the same offices, working with them, so they had that relationship that was being built.

At social functions, I did forced integration, right? So if there are three officers sitting here and three volunteers sitting there, I would be swapping them around a little bit and saying, “Ok, you sit over there,” that type of stuff, and make them talk to each other. Sometimes, I feel like I was dealing with kids in kindergarten, but that’s just the way it works, and it worked out well. And the volunteers, for the most part, got along with the guys, and vice-versa. By the way, I’m from upstate New York, and “guys” means everybody, it’s a general term for all human beings. And you know, if there is conflict, you know, there are conflict resolution processes like anything else, like you would with regular employees, and just go through that process. And there will be conflict.

Creating A Successful Volunteer Program That Will Make You Proud

And then, I want to get a little bit into diversity. Because at a certain point, you understand that you’re reflective of your volunteer programs, especially if you are in a public agency. You’re reflecting what your community looks like. So you need to recruit from your community, right? Make sure that everybody is represented, and go out there, and work harder and make that occur. I think that’s just really important, that’s why we’re saying that.

And then, how do you know your program is working? Ask. Ask the volunteers to rate your program. Ask your staff members to rate your volunteer program. Then you’ll sit down with your management team and you’ll rate the volunteer program just like you would in any other program to see if it’s working, what needs to be tweaked, and you clear the report card. And my suggestion here is, be open and honest with it, right? Let everybody know, this is what we’re doing, this is what we need to improve, you know? And in my case, I’ll give that report to our chief of police, and he will give that report up to the city council, on how we’re rating our volunteer program, and we let the entire city know how our volunteer programs are going. And I think that’s important for you guys to do the same thing, to make it just really an open and honest discussion about how the program is going. And you know what? Is the program not working? We try to tweak it, or possibly, end it. But be honest with yourself and your volunteers.

So, here is an example of a volunteer bill of rights, and I got this from the Volunteer Action Center. There’s a bunch of resources out there, by the way, for volunteer management, where you can get things like these. And so, again, should we treat them as a co-worker, have a suitable assignment, know as much about the organization as possible, train for the job, continuing education, guidance, and direction. And again, it goes back to the idea of making sure that they know if they’re failing. It’s on you as a manager, not on them as volunteers. Promotion for experiences. Be heard. Hear your volunteers, listen to what they have to say. Be recognized, a place for work and tools to do your job. Don’t expect them to do their job without the proper tools. If they’re supposed to be a computer programmer and you give them a Commodore 64, how are they supposed to do their work?

I put up here, it’s interesting, and I’m not going to go through each bullet point, but you guys can go through this later if you wish. But the idea of recognition, it doesn’t really have to come from you. Brainstorm it, talk to your volunteers, how they think they could be recognized, you know what I mean? Have a process. This one here, I got, and it recommends like, handing out a piece of paper and shuffle things around, and have like, a little workshop on how you can recognize your volunteers and how that works. And sometimes, it’s a little bit more fun than just, “Hey, I’m going to make a plaque, and this is what we’re going to do.” You know? So kind of have that.

We actually– the volunteer leadership come together and come up with how they want to be recognized outside the formal record, right? We have the barbeques for them, we have the Christmas Parade party afterward. Things like that, that we can do, very inexpensive and it’s pretty easy. And then we had a nomination process where the volunteers themselves would nominate their volunteer of the year. So they’re a part of the nomination process, so we have them nominate three or four people, out of those three or four people, the leadership will go through, look at them, and nominate. And we do that because we didn’t want to have the same person nominated (unintelligible 00:30:21.21) going on, so we would have them do three or four people, and we go through those three or four people, and evaluate them, and pick the volunteer of the year out of that group. So they don’t nominate their own people.

So today, we covered what a volunteer is, planning for a volunteer program, how to recruit, and then how to retain and recognize that volunteer. So, I have a volunteer request. So, for you guys that are here, if you guys are interested, I do have a website, it’s called EM Weekly. It’s, and we are looking for moderators, blog writes. We have a forum over there, a group facilitator on the forums if you guys want to talk about specifically what you guys do in disaster recovery. And of course, we are also looking for student mentors, for my students that I have, that are going through my programs, I teach (unintelligible 00:31:04.14) Community College, and in this fall, I’ve been teaching at UCI. So I’ll have students that go through, and I was looking for mentors. So if you guys would like to ever pick up a student that you guys would like to bring up into the system, please reach out to me, and I’d love to connect you with them.

Sure, And so, thank you again for having me here, and any questions?

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] I just want you to go back to the bill of rights bullet points.

[TODD DEVOE] Sure. And you guys have the PowerPoint presentation. So questions? Yes, ma’am.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] So volunteers who do invest time on, is there a minimum requirement that you have for them? You were talking about, sometimes you might call, they haven’t volunteered in a while, they’re still (unintelligible 00:31:49.02) program. Do you have a minimum that you would ask (unintelligible 00:31:51.29)?

[TODD DEVOE] Sure. So, some of the positions have a minimum time. So, as a volunteer leader, you have minimum hours that you have to put in to be a leader. As a volunteer police services, which are this program, they are 20 hours a week. I’m sorry, 20 hours a month that they had to put in. I almost made a part-time employee. 20 hours a month that they have to put in. Our CERT volunteers have to make a certain amount of meetings. So they don’t have hours that they have to put in because that’s very random, when we call them out.

But they have to make their training, have to make their meetings. So I think it was one meeting and a quarter that they had to make, and they had to do a certain amount of training during time as well, to keep their skills up. And then our (unintelligible 00:32:32.13) program, they had to make one meeting and a quarter. You had to do this thing called the NET, I don’t know if you guys are HAM operators, but it’s a net where they come out and talk each other on the radio. And you had to make one net a month, (unintelligible 00:32:46.07) every week. So there were some– yeah. So we kind of had an idea who was coming and who wasn’t.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] (unintelligible 00:32:51.18)


[AUDIENCE MEMBER] So where you talk about background check for (unintelligible 00:32:58.22)

[TODD DEVOE] Sure, ok. So it’s like any other employee. So, for instance, I don’t have access to everybody’s personal file in my office. Only certain people have access to the personal file. Same restrictions will be placed on to the volunteers as well. As far as those who have access to it, again, they’re going to be somebody who is in leadership who’s been there a little bit more than your basic volunteer. So they will have that, and they will have a key to get access to it, and stuff like that. So, for instance, our personnel files, who are administrator, they are volunteer administrator, she goes in my office, she could only be there when I was there. She could only get the files when I was there, to access them.

So that’s when she would be able to do the work on those (unintelligible 00:33:58.06) person. So, that’s how that worked for her. So you set the rules, you know? You set the rules on how to access. Yes, ma’am.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] What happens if one of the volunteers gets hurt?

[TODD DEVOE] What happens if one of the volunteers gets hurt? Well, it depends, right? That’s a good question. So, in our case, they’re covered underneath the city insurance, right? So they sign paperwork just like any other employee. They actually have– it’s actually last, but they have actual– if they get hurt in the job, they can get (unintelligible 00:34:29.13) have a work job. Although it gets paid than their normal work. So there is that insurance that covers them in that aspect of it. If they got hurt in the job or doing something specifically, officially for the city, they will cover their medical bills and stuff like this. We actually have a volunteer– here’s another volunteer versus paid guy.

We had a volunteer, she was an older lady. She fell, and she really did a good job, she hurt her shoulder, did something to her elbow, smashed her face, big bruise on her face. And she was back to work on the next day. Showed up. She was (unintelligible 00:35:01.27) got taken care of, back to work the next day. The same day, we actually had an officer who jumped over a fence and had a high ankle break, right? He took a year and a day to come back to work. So just the difference in their mindset. But anyway, point is, is that yes, we do cover them. Now, in California, anybody who is a public employee is a disaster service worker. Anybody who volunteers for a public agency is a disaster service worker.

And so, (unintelligible 00:35:31.18) disaster, they cover a whole another set of insurances. And the interesting thing about the disaster service worker is not just when you’re called out for disaster, it’s also if you’re called out for a specific training and/or deployment for the company, for the city. So in other words, anybody who is going through the CERT basic training, we (unintelligible 00:35:51.28) them in, they’re covered by disaster service workers. So if they get hit during training, they’re covered by the DSW laws, if they come out for like a parade, you can’t use them for a parade. But if you call it communication– it’s kind of, you know, around the circle here, but you call it a communications drill, you have to have an actual plan associated with it, what they’re doing, what the outcomes are going to be, it has to be submitted to the state, to the process, this communications drill.

And if they get hurt during the parade, during those activities, they’re covered as well. So you can’t just call them up to be in a parade, there has to be some sort of training aspect associated with it. Does that make sense? So, that’s how that works. Any other questions?

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] What about you? I mean, you have these different programs, have you been a target for the younger youth, to volunteer your CERT team in some level of service?

[TODD DEVOE] Sure, that’s a really good question. So basically, with the programs that we have, that offer to youth. Well, on CERT, we have Team CERT, which are called high schools, which can pick them up. We have CCERT, which is Campus CERT, where colleges can do this as well, and get these people interested in the public service. Also, our explorer programs, our conduct programs, things like that, they’re still the same thing, volunteers.

We use our explorers extensively for things, we get them trained in basic law enforcement stuff and they get to do some things like (unintelligible 00:37:10.21) officer, help direct traffic at the parade and things like that. Well, not traffic, but people, at the parade. You know, things like these. So yeah, we do utilize them as well. I know that the Red Cross has clubs that are associated with high schools and colleges as well, to get them involved. And obviously, the radio programs, on all ages. Any other questions?

Well, I want to thank for the offer, for having me today. I’m hoping you got something out of this with the volunteer programs. I know with businesses it’s a little bit different, but they are available in businesses. Like I said, hospitals, Toyota has done it, colleges have it, other administrations like big corporations have volunteer programs like these. So if you guys are ever interested in creating a program, and if you would like to talk to me offline, here is my contact information, somewhere here. Right there. So you can contact me there. You guys have my contact information, you’re more than welcome to share with anybody that you’d like. So thank you for being here today. Thank you.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to that speech regarding volunteers. As you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about volunteers and what volunteers really do for emergency management and disaster response because realistically, without the volunteers, our programs would just not eb able to get off the ground, as far as response and recovery, in lots of cases. American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, Salvation Army. Even the faith-based organizations that come out to feed people, they clothe people, to be really involved in the community. So, please, take a look at volunteer opportunities. If you are not employed full-time, you can still do a lot of good work with these volunteer opportunities. And who knows? It might turn into a full-time job even on the volunteer side, managing the volunteers there.

Please, feel free to reach out to us at or And there, you know, we can discuss things and talk about opportunities.

Until next week, I’ll talk to you later.

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