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A Common New Volunteer Story
As a new volunteer excited to start helping our struggling students, you may start at our main website and fill out a registration form, but you then get sent to another site for training. You get an email response with the same links just in case you lose them, but maybe that email gets buried by others and although you logged into the training center and started a course, you're not sure how to get back to it, and what is this volunteer portal you've heard about as well and are you supposed to go there for training? And why can't you log in at LearningAlly.org to continue your training? How can you find your way?!
We know our various sites and resources can seem like a maze! Navigating our volunteer system can be challenging at times and producing audiobooks is not a simple task. We started weekly Training Office Hours meetings where new volunteers and recent graduates can tune in and ask questions and get answers right away. We are also available through our Training chat for quick questions, and both communities also use their own Google chat channels for communication too (Virtual Water Cooler, Literary Salon, Textbook Staff hangouts, etc.). And there's always email as well. Paula Restrepo and Lori Leland also reach out to volunteers via email and phone to ensure they have what they need to succeed as volunteers. We wish we could be there looking over your shoulder to help when you're stuck, but our virtual volunteering system doesn't allow us to be there with you physically.
What is virtual volunteering?
We use the term "virtual volunteering" sometimes to describe what you do since your volunteer activity is done online and from your own home. However, we do NOT consider you a "virtual volunteer"! You are very real and gracious folks who give your time and talents to help others succeed and we really, really appreciate you! We are here to help you navigate and figure out how you can help our students.
Try our new Volunteer Sitemap!
To alleviate some of this confusion, we created a Volunteer Sitemap mini-lesson that explains our various sites and what they do. New volunteers get a link to this in their initial emailed registration response, and it's also in our Virtual Training site dashboard and in the Volunteer Portal's Resources section at the bottom of the page. Traditionally, a sitemap is a map of a single Internet site, but out Volunteer Sitemap is designed to help you navigate all the sites you may encounter in our volunteer community. We hope this helps and feedback is always welcome!
Please reach out to us if you have any questions...we are here to help!
Remember that old Staple’s commercial, with the father gleefully purchasing back-to-school supplies to the soundtrack of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? In the commercial, the children appear quite despondent, dismayed by the imminent arrival of the impending school year.
We adults all laughed at this commercial (for a bit of nostalgia, click here to view it again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD1PffNbZls), but for many families back-to-school really is a terribly stressful time. For about 20% of students, school is pure torture, and it makes family life difficult as well. For those students who use Learning Ally, however, school can be more like it was for me: an exciting day filled with learning and fun. Thanks to the work of our many volunteers, these children’s sadness can be turned to joyful expectation! Instead of automatically expecting humiliation and failure, they can anticipate another year of personal growth and success in school.
As we move into the new school year (yes, schools in the South have started already!), here at Learning Ally we reset all our counters that measure the schools’ and students’ activity over the year. So, here’s where we are:
2,965,350 books on student bookshelves were set back to zero
697,280 students had their reading data set back to zero
17,583 schools had their reading data set back to zero
41,129 new school year emails sent out on August 1st, with an additional 82,258 going out in the days to come
How do you want students to feel on the first day of school? Here are some of the answers staff came up with at a Back-to-School Pep Rally last week:
And it’s all possible--VERY possible--because of all the hard work staff and volunteers (YOU!) put into helping these families. Thank you!