45 Bristol Street, New Haven, CT 06511 information@newhavenreads.org 203-752-1923
Volunteer

A Week in the Life of Our Outreach Director Natosha

Week in the life of the Outreach Director Natosha

Every week comes with certain tasks that must be done without fail. First thing I do in the morning is read and reply to my emails, usually 15-30 emails each day. Every Monday calls for approving intern timesheets and emailing them to their designated University program supervisor. Right now we have a total of 28 interns from various universities and high schools in New Haven, many working with us as tutors. Early in the week, I have a few weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly meetings scheduled, with the Education team, Communications team, Outreach team and the Executive Director. Collaboration between the departments is crucial to my work, to make sure the volunteer experience is smooth as they move through intake, training, tutoring and program evaluation.

A sizable part of my position is to bring on new volunteers. This requires 5 steps: recruitment, interviews, onboarding, training and assignments. This part of my job feels like juggling, because volunteers are all at different stages in the process. In one of my interviews this week a new volunteer asked “What is the best part about New Haven Reads?” I didn’t have to think before replying: “Getting to know someone who might be totally different from you, and helping each other to be better people.”

I am motivated by this kind of work, and have been involved with volunteers for years. My previous role was as a California State Parks Foundation Field Consultant, leading large scale volunteer habitat restoration projects in the California State Parks. I love to work to make the volunteer experience positive and rewarding. At New Haven Reads our volunteers are giving so much of themselves, and our priority is to make sure that they have all the tools they need to support our students and feel supported in return.

One way I do this is through training sessions. Taking input from volunteers and staff helps form topic-specific training sessions with experts. Our most recent training was about the effects of Covid-19 on students, led by Nakesha Alleyne, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Another part of my position is building community partnerships. We do this through our robust internship program, organizations which send employees for service days, lecture series and community collaboration projects. Some examples of the groups we work with are Design for America and Teach for America, who did two important projects for us and helped provide invaluable materials and content for our programs. Some of the big projects I am working on this week include developing a Volunteer Ambassador Team, setting up our Distance Learning: Mission Possible Meetings, our second annual Lecture Series (coming this summer!), an annual volunteer survey, and collaborating on creative ways to thank our wonderful volunteers.

Many of my Thursdays mornings are spent in monthly staff meetings or Site Director meetings. This is the time when we all come together to discuss big picture plans and everyday best practices. Thursday’s are also busy with tutor training sessions in the evenings. By Friday evening I have wrapped up the week feeling accomplished and prepared for the following Monday.