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Invest in Your Volunteers for Big Dividends

I love it when a resident is enthusiastic about providing an activity for the community! I will do just about anything that I can to support him or her, so that they can succeed. I am sure, that as the director of activities in your retirement community, you would too. I have residents running many different programs and have written about this in a past blog called Resident Run Programs for Success

This post is about one of the programs I started a few years ago with an introductory program one evening. The game is called Scattergories, and it is played in teams. When I introduced the game to the community, my goal was two parted. The first part was to show those in attendance how easy and fun it was to play the game. I explained to them that sometimes the people on your team will be able to offer something to the question being asked, and other times they will not. This was to encourage all participants involved by allowing them to be passive if they wanted to be and that it was alright.  The next thing that I wanted to share was how much fun it was to lead the program. It was my first time leading this activity, and I let the group know that. Yes, I played at home once, but not with a group of this size.  I shared this with them on purpose so that they can see that it was something any one of them could do.

After the evening was over, I spoke to a few of the residents who had attended the introduction of Scattergories to the community. I found someone who said he would give it a try.... and he has been the leader of the program ever since. He is also the "judge" and the score keeper.  The program was held once a week and then they switched to every other week. The first year they played 12 months a year. Afterwards, they have opted to stop for the summer.  Listen to your volunteer and they will tell you how often they feel they can lead the group and how often the group wants to meet.

My volunteer came to me last week and asked if there were any new questions for the game, because he felt that those who attend would appreciate them as the new season started. I did find some new questions on-line and he was thrilled. While we waited for them to print out, I talked to him about the success of the game in the community and thanked him for the time that he has put into the activity. I talked to him about introducing a new game to the community which is another group game that I thought would be fun. He said yes, and we have a plan to share Apples to Apples with the group on one of the next Scattergories nights. As before, I will be there to share it with the players and to show the volunteer how to lead it.... and then I am sure that it will be off and running. 

The lesson that I've learned is that a little bit of time on my part can pay big dividends when I set up the activity so that a resident volunteer can take on the program and run it like a pro!  What can you do in your community that would have a big pay-off like that!

p.s. There are different versions of Apples to Apples that I have put into my Activities Director's Store, under Games, on my blog that are worth looking at if you want religious concepts or a junior version.


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