Oftentimes volunteer programs are run by a culture where policies and procedures take precedence over co-created values. Where do you land? Is the mission a smokescreen for harmful decision-making and power, or are you guided by a set of non-negotiables that help you navigate what it means to help and not harm in all aspects of your work?
Here are 5 anchors that can help create a framework for you and your volunteers to refocus and connect in a community-centered way as you navigate strategy, daily to-do lists and ongoing community interactions. Feel free to use these to ignite your imagination and create your own:
- It’s okay not to have all the answers because I am not the savior of anyone’s life or the expert on anyone’s personal lived experiences.
- I understand this work is about co-liberation for all and I will not make a mockery of this opportunity and experience.
- It's okay to have feelings. It's not okay to center them in places of partnership over community impact. If those feelings are harmful, it is my responsibility to discover the root and how they influence my actions while partnering.
- There are biases, and stereotypes that I must continue to identify and unlearn in order to be a responsive and effective co-dreamer.
- Anyone that I am connected to are not their needs. I appreciate, recognize and uplift their wholeness in dignity, respect and love.
It is also vital and important that you yourself believe these sentiments and can be an active participant in the implementation of them. If you don't, it becomes a checkbox, an action with no substance. Let's make sure this is a lifestyle not a transaction.