As a new or returning volunteer with the Volunteer Program you will encounter new situations and will need to become familiar with new surroundings. The Adler Aphasia Center staff-especially your Volunteer Supervisor and the Volunteer Coach-want to help you get off to a good start. Feel free to ask them for help concerning anything you do not understand.
One of the first things you should do is carefully read this Volunteer Handbook. It is designed to answer many of your questions about the practices and policies of the Volunteer Program.
Volunteer assignments are presented in the form of a written position description. The volunteer opportunities open to an individual will vary depending on the applicant's interests, skills, talents, past experiences and availability, as well as on the needs of the Center and the specific requirements of each volunteer assignment. Volunteers are required to work within the scope of their written assignments. Volunteers may not provide services or handle tasks that are not covered in their volunteer assignments or for which they have not been trained. Some volunteer opportunities are on a one-time only basis, while others may be weekly or monthly. Volunteers should discuss, with the Volunteer Coach, the amount of time they are able to commit and their availability, prior to the start of each program semester.
The commitment for a volunteer at the Adler Aphasia Center is at least one hour, one day each week. We ask that our volunteers commit to the same hour and day each week to maintain program consistency.
In order to ensure that all Center volunteers develop a minimum base of knowledge and skills necessary to work with individuals with Aphasia, all volunteers are required to participate in an orientation and training process that includes at least one hour of observation in a communication strategies group or other conversation group facilitated by a licensed speech-language pathologist and one session (approximately 2 hours) of inservice training by the Center's speech-language pathologists (a combination of discussion, lecture, exercises, role play and practice using supported conversation). Inservice trainings are currently offered to all volunteers three times each year. All volunteers (including experienced volunteers) are required to attend all offered trainings in order to strengthen their communication skills and respective abilities to work with members with all levels and types of Aphasia. In certain circumstances, new volunteers may also receive a video training. Additional training may be required for certain volunteer positions, as specified in each volunteer's written volunteer position description.
Experienced volunteers, who meet the requirements specified by our speech-language pathologists, may be considered for group facilitation. Group facilitators co-lead or lead group discussions and activities. They receive specialized training and support and are supervised by the Center's experienced staff of speech-language pathologists. Group facilitators must be able to communicate with individuals with all types and levels of Aphasia.
The following protocol applies to volunteers interested in leading a group at the Adler Aphasia Center. This training process will take place over the course of a semester and "graduation" is upon mutual agreement between the volunteer and the Center's speechlanguage pathologist. The speech-language pathologist reserves the right to end the agreement at any time.
- Volunteer Orientation/Training: Attend mandatory Aphasia education training held periodically throughout the year and participate in morning meet/greet or lunch with less verbal members, with speech-language pathologist support, for at least four sessions
- Group observation: Observe at least 4 discussion groups determined by the Center's speech-language pathologists
- Hands-on Training: Participate in discussion groups as a "co-facilitator" with a speech-language pathologist and receive support & feedback in group facilitator/supported communication skills
- Supervised Group Facilitation: Participate in a discussion group and gradually assume more responsibility in group leadership, if desired
- "Graduation": Become a group facilitator for the new semester (with ongoing support/observation provided)
All volunteers are required to sign-in and sign-out at the volunteer table located near the front entrance to the Center, during each visit to the Center. Logging in your volunteer hours is important to the Center and allows us to maintain an accurate record of your contributions to the Center. It is also important for Center staff to know who is in the facility at all times. All volunteer hours are recorded and used for recognition as well as for use in applying for grants and other financial support for the Center.
If you are unable to report to volunteer, or if you will arrive late, please contact your Volunteer Supervisor or the Volunteer Coach as soon as possible. Vacations and anticipated absences should be communicated to the Volunteer Coach as early as possible to allow time for the scheduling of a substitute volunteer.
All Center closing dates will be indicated on a monthly calendar to be posted at the volunteer table located near the front entrance to the Center. Please be sure to keep apprised of Center closing dates by periodically checking the monthly calendar. In the case of inclement weather, please call the Center to confirm that the Center will be open. A recorded message indicating Center closings for inclement weather will be posted by 7:30 A.M. on the subject day.
Open communication between you and your Volunteer Supervisor serves as an informal performance review. Day-to-day interaction with your Volunteer Supervisor will give you a sense of how you are performing your job functions.
Evaluations will take the form of ongoing communication between you, your Volunteer Supervisor and the Volunteer Coach. Should you desire a formal performance evaluation, please discuss it with the Volunteer Coach and one will be provided for you.
The primary reason for performance evaluation is to identify your strengths and areas of growth in order to reinforce your good habits and to develop new ways to improve weaker areas.
In evaluating job performance, your Volunteer Supervisor will consider the following things, among others:
- Attendance, initiative and effort
- Knowledge of your job
- Attitude and the quality of your work
- The conditions under which you work
The Center purchases and licenses various computer software programs for Center use and does not own the copyright to this software or its related documentation. Copyright laws protect the exclusive rights of the copyright holder of software used at the Center. Volunteers may only use software in the Center according to the software license agreement. Volunteers are not to take copies of any software used in the Center for their personal use. Volunteers also should not load personal software on Center computers. Unauthorized duplication of software is a federal crime.
Computers, computer files, the e-mail system, and software furnished or available to volunteers are Adler Aphasia Center property intended for Center use only. Volunteers should have no expectation of privacy in the Adler Aphasia Center's computers, computer files or e-mail system. Volunteers should not use a password, access a file, or retrieve any stored communication without authorization.
The Adler Aphasia Center prohibits the use of computers and the e-mail system in ways that are disruptive, offensive to others, or harmful to morale. For example, the display or transmission of sexually explicit images, messages, and cartoons is strictly prohibited. Other such misuse includes, but is not limited to, ethnic slurs, racial comments, off-color jokes, or anything that may be construed as harassment, discrimination or showing disrespect for others.
The posting of notices at our volunteer table is our "official" way of keeping everyone informed about new policies, changes in procedures, scheduling changes, and special events. Information of general interest is posted regularly. Please read the notices regularly to stay informed of important information about the Center.
All volunteers are required to wear a name tag. Name tags will be available on the first day of volunteering and contain large text lettering for easy identification by Center members. All volunteers are also required to take a photograph to be displayed on our volunteer and staff identification board.
To ensure that volunteers who join the Adler Aphasia Center are well qualified and have a strong potential to be productive and successful, it is the policy of the Adler Aphasia Center to check the references listed on all applications.
Volunteers should promptly notify the Volunteer Coach of any change in name, home or business address, telephone number or e-mail address, or individuals to be contacted in case of an emergency.
Parking spaces next to the building are set aside for Center members with mobility restrictions. Volunteer parking is located across the street from the Center on the north side of West Hunter Avenue.
Individuals younger than age 18 are required to obtain written consent from a parent/guardian to volunteer at the Center. There is no maximum age for volunteers.
The Adler Aphasia Center intends to provide a volunteer environment that is pleasant, healthful, comfortable, and free from intimidation, hostility or other offenses, which might interfere with volunteer performance. Harassment of any sort-verbal, physical, or visual-will not be tolerated. Harassment can take many forms. It may be, but is not limited to: words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation, physical contact, or violence. The Adler Aphasia Center strictly prohibits its staff and volunteers from engaging in any discriminatory or harassing behavior based on race, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, disability, or any other category protected by law. If a volunteer feels that he or she has been subject to any discriminatory or harassing behavior, please report it immediately to the Volunteer Supervisor or Volunteer Coach.
A copy of the Adler Aphasia Center's policies and procedures on harassment and discrimination, including the Center's complaint procedure, may be obtained from the Center staff or Volunteer Coach upon request.
The use of alcohol or drugs by a volunteer when volunteering for the Adler Aphasia Center is strictly prohibited.
If you have a concern regarding your volunteer service, we would like to hear about it. You are always welcome to discuss your concerns with your Volunteer Supervisor or the Volunteer Coach.
While we hope that both you and the Adler Aphasia Center will mutually benefit from your continued volunteering, we realize that it may become necessary for you to leave your position with the Adler Aphasia Center. If you anticipate having to resign your position with the Adler Aphasia Center, you are expected to notify the Volunteer Coach in writing as far in advance as possible and make arrangements for an exit interview.