An Exploration of Volunteer Training at Richstone Family Center
Richstone Family Center is an agency for child abuse treatment and prevention in Los Angeles County, and their volunteers, most specifically at their after-school Kids Club program, are integral to assisting the staff in ensuring that the organization runs more smoothly. Because of the integral role of volunteers in Kids Club, this research seeks to understand the volunteer experience at Kids Clubs in order to develop effective options for action for a new volunteer training process. Through participant observation, qualitative interviews, and volunteer surveys at the Kids Club, an understanding of the current volunteer experience was gained over the course of a semester. The participant observation and qualitative interview results revealed six major themes in the volunteer experience: organization structure, holistic understanding, family dynamics in the organization, cultural enrichment, orientation to boundaries, and volunteer responsibility. The survey results revealed three major themes: lack of training, cohesion vs. adaptability, andopenness. This study understands a non-profit organization through a family systems perspective and emphasizes the need for an effective volunteer training process that aligns the goals of the staff with the goals of the volunteers in order to properly assist in volunteers’ organizational socialization processes.