Volunteer Spotlight: Intake Team
We at JF&CS are proud of volunteers and appreciate that we could not do what we do without them. It is especially wonderful when our volunteers provide critical services not only to our clients, but also to the organization itself. This is precisely what our group of dedicated intake volunteers does for us each week. Day in and day out, these volunteers are the first voices heard by hundreds of potential JF&CS clients looking to access our many services. Fielding dozens of calls each day, the intake volunteers have made a phenomenal impact on our staff, on our clients and on JF&CS as a whole.
In these challenging times, more and more people are reaching out to organizations like JF&CS for help. The volume of calls we receive each week is substantial, and for quite some time, our clinicians in Counseling Services – Tools for Life and Child & Adolescent Services – Tools for Families and our Career Services – Tools for Employment staff had been managing not only their own individual calls, but also each other’s incoming calls. In addition to the sheer number of calls coming in, they are often challenging to field because of their sensitive nature.
At the beginning of this year, a task force was developed to take these calls on a consistent basis. Our initial team of three volunteers -- Robin Brill, Ellen Mazer and Barbara Pollock -- is now on hand to support our staff and clients each week, Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During these critical hours, the intake volunteers are met with an experience that is rewarding on a number of levels.
“It’s very eye-opening to speak with people individually and to hear their stories,” says Ellen Mazer. “It really is a privilege to help people.”
The intake process is essential to clients’ relationships with JF&CS and with their clinicians. While it is indeed important that those who call us looking to access services are directed to the appropriate clinicians, it is just as important that they are made to feel safe, respected and reassured. Each intake volunteer has undergone an intensive training program to prepare for the task at hand so that when they begin to take calls, they are able to direct each potential client to the appropriate services efficiently and effectively, but also with care and empathy.
The volunteers have become key members of the teams they support. Beyond answering the incoming calls, they are responsible for a great deal of scheduling of appointments and career workshops as well as documentation and appropriately directing the calls after they have collected the information they need. Each volunteer has an extensive knowledge of JF&CS through past experience with us and her intake volunteer training.
Robin Brill has been involved with JF&CS in a number of capacities, and she speaks very highly of this new experience as an intake volunteer. “It is quite rewarding to do a small bit to help people in times like these, which are not just economically challenging but mentally and emotionally challenging as well. It’s so fulfilling to be a part of someone’s road to wellness.”
What may seem on the surface like a short phone conversation to schedule an appointment could very well be a person’s first time asking for help. Each incoming call to JF&CS is different, as each person who contacts us has his or her own story. “This has been such a hands-on experience,” says Barbara Pollock. “I feel like we are really helping out at JF&CS, and I’m so happy with what we’ve done.”
These wonderful volunteers have risen to this challenge with incredible dedication and poise, helping us to truly connect with our clients from the moment they hear that first friendly voice on the phone.
“We are so fortunate to have such an incredible team of people helping us with this responsibility,” says Denise Deitchman, JF&CS’s Manager of Volunteer Development. “They are our first-responders, and each of them has already made an amazing impact on us and our clients.”