Getting to know our Director of Volunteers & Interns and Special Events

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Hello again, and welcome back to the Inside Scoop!  The office is buzzing with excitement and anticipation for our next big event, Au Courant. What better time for us to sit down with Landa Patterson, Director of Volunteers & Interns and Special Events! In this month’s edition, we learn just how vital volunteers and interns are to our organization.

Q: How important is the Volunteer and Intern program at Child & Family?

A: It is incredibly important.  We are growing as an agency, but there are certainly times where we have had more volunteers and interns than employees!  We couldn’t do it all without them. They are an integral part of what we do.  Whether it’s an intern that comes in on a regular basis or a group of volunteers who donate their time and talent, we are grateful to them for thinking of us. It’s an incredible workforce that we tap into and hopefully the volunteers are getting as much out of it as we are.

Q: Where do most volunteers and interns come from?

A: The interns come from a wide variety of schools including Salve Regina, Roger Williams and URI; these are our main sources. Then we get students who go to schools farther afield and work with us in the summers. We also get community service students from local high schools and we have a great community of people who volunteer.

Q: What are the top three reasons people volunteer?

A: The most common scenario is people coming into the office saying that they finally have time to give back to the community. They are ready to help where ever we need it most. We also see students who intern for credit or who want the experience in their given field.

Q: Have you seen any trends over the years?

A: Internship-wise, it is always the heaviest at the beginning of the semesters, yet not so necessarily with the community volunteers because they are coming as they perhaps retire or find time to help.  It was interesting though because we did see fewer community volunteers as the economy was struggling.  Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the group of people who volunteer.

Q: What is the process for people interested in volunteering? Are there specific criteria you look for?

A: If you’re interested in volunteering then let me know! You can go to our website and sign up using the volunteer application or you can simply call me. As far as the criteria is concerned: enthusiasm, interest and commitment.  If you’ve got that, we’ll love you!

Q: Do you have any stories you could share about some of your volunteers?

A: There are people who have been volunteering for a lot longer than I have been here.  In fact, I inherited a group of volunteers who we call the “friendly visitors”. They volunteer in Elder Services and pair up with a client who is in need of companionship.  We also have Mr. Gibbons!  He is our ambassador who comes twice a week and is almost like the mayor of our building, everyone knows him and loves him. There are so many great volunteers that genuinely care about this organization and the community.  EVERY volunteer has a great story.

Q: Along with the volunteer and intern program, you also run special events.  Can you briefly tell us about Child & Family’s annual events?

A: Along with our Annual Meeting, we have two signature benefit events. They are Au Courant, which is our fashion show in June and the other is Taste of Newport which is our culinary event in November.  Both are community oriented and we rely on donors, sponsors and guests to come and enjoy themselves and support our agency.  We have also started cultivation events where a host or hostess opens their home for small gatherings.  We like to call those “friend-raisers” to get people familiar with who we are and what we do.

Q: So your next event, Au Courant is quickly approaching!  How can people get involved?

A: If you visit our website, we have an entire section dedicated to Au Courant. People can get involved by buying tickets, sponsoring or donating to our auction. We’re also always looking for photographers and volunteers for the day of the event. If they are interested in volunteering or have questions about the event, they can give me a call directly!

Q: What does the money raised by these events support?

A: It supports many different aspects of Child & Family.  Event attendees, sponsors and donors should know that the majority of money raised is used to provide services to those children and families in our community and throughout Rhode Island.  Our benefit events play a vital role in raising needed dollars, keeping Child & Family at the forefront of helping those in need.

Q: Do you have a favorite event?

A: I started out working on Taste of Newport, so I think that is one of my favorites, but our Volunteer Appreciation Reception tops the list. It’s great to be able to personally thank our wonderful volunteers and interns.

Q: How did you become involved with Child & Family?

A: I actually started as the Coordinator of the Youth Opportunity Center which was a grant funded program to give 16-21 year olds job skills.  Then, here I was!

Q: When you’re not working or putting on events, what can we find you doing?

A: Laughing with friends!