A mid-month, full day workshop, ‘Strategizing Pride in Volunteering’, was designed for volunteer engagement professionals and leadership in not-for-profit organizations as part of Pride in Volunteering; a pioneering program of awareness and training that directly addresses diversity and the challenges of gender inclusiveness.
‘Strategizing Pride in Volunteering’ on March 12 had a virtual ‘full house’ at Community Door in Brampton, and the workshop leaders and speakers came away with the solid belief that not only is the program worthwhile, but also that clear progress was and is being made as the result of frank dialogues about how volunteers and volunteer engagement professionals can welcome and include everyone of all backgrounds and orientations in volunteering experiences.
Initial discomfort and hesitancy at the outset of the session were overcome by well-intentioned curiosity and by learning from those who are key players in PHAN. Their contributions were complemented by principal speakers Kathleen Douglass and Annemarie Shrouder, both consultants at the leading edge of diversity and gender awareness, acceptance, and inclusiveness. These experts were able to clearly identify the issues and provide the means to understand them and, ultimately, turn ‘issues’ into non-issues by offering enlightening perspectives.
Participants clearly were listening, plus exchanges were lively, and afterward Kelly Towsley of Caledon Community Services stated, “It (the workshop) gives me the confidence to learn about a community that I don’t belong to. … I will encourage fellow staff to support everyone who walks through our door as a client, volunteer, or staff member.”
Without exception, participants came away with lots to think about. More importantly, there was the realization that there’s lots to do, plus the need to act and set the early example for all volunteers.