Finding volunteers for any program can be hard. It can be made even more difficult when the program requires extensive knowledge or is overly complex. EWYL was written by a center director for their existing staff and volunteers. The author, Dinah Monahan, knew of these struggles and worked to design a program that would be effective, not only for the young women, but also for the volunteers.

The EWYL program makes finding facilitators easier by creating effective and rewarding positions. These “facilitator” positions allow your volunteers to interact directly with your clients, provide them with important and pertinent information, and help them to develop great relationships. Once you have the position for your volunteers to serve in, it is time to recruit. Here is the experience of our local PRC:

Recently I was talking to a rural center director who was sharing her concerns about the lack of volunteers. “People seem interested when I talk to them,” she said, “but they never come in.” That was true of our center for many years, but we came up with a system to help fill all those volunteer spots.

First, we printed quarter-page cards on bright colored stock. On these cards we put lines for the usual data: name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and areas of interest. The cards are generic. How we use them is the trick. All volunteers and staff carry cards with them. When we bump into someone who expresses an interest in the ministry, we whip out the card and (this is the important point) have them fill it out on the spot. Don’t let them say, “I’ll fill it out and send it to you.” They won’t!

After we created the cards, we set up a procedure for processing them. If the contact just wants to receive our newsletter but doesn’t have an e-mail address, the card goes in the database basket. If she has an e-mail address, a copy of the card comes to me to add to my e-mail newsletter list, and I send her e-mails about prayer requests, praise reports, needs, and updates.

What about the contacts who indicate they want to volunteer? Not only do they get added to the database and the e-mail list, they get a welcome letter, a call, and an invitation to tour the clinic. During the tour we give them a packet with information about us (mission statement, statement of faith, our history, etc.) and an application, which we ask them to fill out on the spot. From there they are plugged into the appropriate area of service, and we have a committed volunteer. Since we put this system in place, we have filled all our volunteer positions, and our clinic is abuzz with activity. It took a little time to set it up, but it truly has paid off. Try it!

Training Facilitators

Any training can be arduous, especially for the trainers who already have other jobs to do! EWYL replaces the normal time consuming methods with simple on-the-job training. When a volunteer is approved to be a facilitator, they simply need to have the EWYL system explained to them (the purpose, the modules, the lesson set-up, and the personalized lesson plan). Then, they should sit in on a few lessons with another facilitator and they are ready! They can begin being a facilitator while sitting in with the client when they haven’t seen the content before. It really is that simple!

The Lesson Investment

When facilitators show up to facilitate lessons, they are typically running individual lessons of one-hour each. This includes watching the DVD and reviewing the discussion questions or, in the case of written lessons, reading the lesson and discussing the questions with the client. A few videos will run the full hour in which case there are not normally discussion questions and there are a few DVDs that are shorter allowing more time to expand and apply with the client. In one short hour, a lesson can be taught, reiterated, internalized, and then reinforced with the homework. Facilitators normally can work with one client for each hour they are volunteering.

The Qualifications of a Facilitator

Everyone is uniquely qualified to serve God. The position of facilitator in the EWYL requires certain qualities and characteristics that will help the EWYL program be successful. First, a facilitator must have compassion. Clients in crisis pregnancies need to feel the heart of the ministry through the facilitator. This position requires a person that is able to express both truth and love. Second, the facilitator should have a personal relationship with Christ. This is important for both seeing opportunities to witness and to insure that the facilitator has a world view that agrees with your organization. Facilitators, like all volunteers, should agree with and sign your statement of faith before volunteering.

A facilitator should have some level of wisdom to share with the young clients. Normally very young facilitators are not a good fit. Also, if there is an abortion or trauma in a facilitators past, it is important to insure that healing has been achieved before putting them in a facilitator role.

On a practical level, all facilitator should be able to read well, talk comfortably with the clients and be the same gender as the client.

Retaining Facilitators

For most volunteers, the reason they are volunteering is to make a difference. With the EWYL program, they don’t just make a impact, they get to SEE the good that they are making week after week.

While the successes are important in retaining volunteers, here are a few tips and suggestions for keeping your best facilitators:

  • Try to arrange schedules so that facilitators can work with the same clients to develop relationships.
  • Define success early on with the facilitator as a changed life. Help them see the changes in their clients.
  • Recognize the volunteers regularly both personally and at public events.
  • Encourage involvement with the clients while giving wise counsel on appropriate limits.
  • Provide the tools your facilitators need (counseling rooms, DVD player, easy access to copies or a copy machine, etc.).