At the beginning of the year, Southern made some adaptations to its fire safety program by utilizing Lights Volunteers to check fire extinguishers on a monthly basis in all 45 of its campus buildings. Brooks Kirschmann, Fire Systems Manager, says originally there was only one individual tasked with the entire job. Subsequently, the patrol officers added the job to their to-do lists, but checking extinguishers in addition to their daily responsibilities, became too much. Eventually, it was proposed that a request be submitted for volunteers to handle these duties.
Did you know there are 800 fire extinguishers on campus? There are also many emergency exit lights that need to be monitored as well. After these are checked, the information is logged and records are kept for current and future maintenance. Kirschmann says, “If there were no volunteers, this job would cost the school a huge amount of money, because we would have to hire a contractor to do everything.”
Three Lights who have contributed to this program are Chad Martz, Mike Wyckoff, and Greg Hocking. Martz says the main reason he decided to take on this responsibility was because he had experience in fire safety. “Familiarity drew me in. I had done work like this in the past and am used to the routine.” Martz’s schedule consists of checking three buildings each day, with each taking approximately two hours to complete.
The budget conserved in the Campus Safety Department for this vital responsibility is significant. Since inception during January 2013, the value of the volunteers’ hours totals $14,814.94.
Every Thursday for four years, Darlene Turner has faithfully been in the Talge conference room ironing dress shirts for the boys who live in the dorm. She says, “I like to iron, plus I have a grandson who was attending school when I started volunteering. I figured it would be nice for the boys to have tidy clothes for Sabbath.”
Each week she irons an average of 20 shirts, though some days it can be up to 30. Her hours are from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., but many times she stays later depending on the load she is given. The students bring their clothes Wednesday night or Thursday morning and put labels on them so when she arrives Thursday afternoon, everything is ready to be ironed.
Turner has grown fond of the dorm residents, whom are fond of her as well. She mentioned how a student once approached her and said, “Having you do this for everyone feels like having my own mother here.”
Throughout the years she’s been able to build friendships with many students. Turner has displayed true dedication that has shown the importance of even the little things and how much a service like hers can make a difference in people’s lives.
Darlene has lived in Tennessee since 1998. Her son, Fred Turner, is the architect for Southern. Her daughter, Kelly Crawford, works in University Health as an office manager.
There are many misconceptions about volunteering, one of them being that volunteers are only used for the mundane or undesirable tasks that others aren’t interested in performing. While they are not monetarily compensated for their service, many times they receive benefits for their time.
At Southern, many jobs have specific and detailed descriptions, so volunteers may decide what suits them best. For example, a number of Southern Lights are participants in the Standardized Patient program for the School of Nursing. They portray a patient profile to assist student nurses become more comfortable taking patient histories, doing regional assessments, and/or participating in community health visitations. Others serve as receptionists in administrative offices and docents in the Lynn H. Wood Archaeological Museum. Southern has two individuals who check 800 fire extinguishers and the emergency lighting in all campus buildings every month—a valuable campus safety program. Another assists as a classroom aide in the new Vegetarian Cuisine program in the School of PE, Health and Wellness, while still another is cataloging insects in the Biology Department.
Volunteers are encouraged to tell us what they’d like to do, so we can attempt to make a perfect match between desire, opportunity and skill. It’s important to clearly define expectations for volunteer projects in writing and state the desired outcome. Sometimes organizations or companies make the mistake of bringing in volunteers, expecting them to do whatever they request, regardless of how much labor is involved. Volunteers should be respected and valued as opposed to being used as “free” labor.
According to the October 2013 issue of the Volunteer Management Report, Volunteers are entitled to specific rights regardless the job, organization or culture. The report says these rights include:
1. Training and preparation to do their job
2. Questioning operations and the ability to identify a clear person to go to with questions or concerns
3. Timely communication and respect for their time
Volunteers that are valued, respected and appreciated, will develop loyalty to Southern as well as portray a positive relationship to the community.
To view announcements, visit In The Know