When Necessity Becomes the Mother of Invention
Observations by Ashley Bryant, CASA Training Specialist
I had no idea when the COVID-19 pandemic began to truly affect everyday life, that the video conference app, Zoom, would become a part of my daily reality. While I had hoped to initially just use it to connect with multiple family members or have dance parties with friends, it has provided a platform for the CASA volunteer training to continue, albeit with some differences. It was a shaky start for me, as I had to find the best computer and Wi-Fi spot in my home, and even then, sometimes technology lets you down.
But now, we are almost half way through our spring training online and I feel like we have gotten the hang of things. Our new volunteers have been patient and hung in with us as we navigate this new format. I've also been super lucky to have our Program Director and all the other supervisors and CASA team members pitch in on different nights to keep our momentum and excitement going.
The training looks really different when you have to try to replicate the energy of discussing these very serious topics and how important they are, without being in the room to bounce ideas, case stories, and suggestions off one another. We wanted to try to rebuild that, and have urged volunteers to keep their video monitors on them, and make sure they are watching their fellow trainees as they share. We have used polling and breakout rooms on the app to replicate some of our discussion topics and give people a chance to get to know each other, even though the rooms don't include the snack table to talk over as we would have liked. So far, I think the volunteers have remained committed in this, and are online, ready to go, working with online documents, and showing a vigor and excitement that makes us proud of our volunteers and our program.
Now that we have mastered this new video format I think it will bring us new opportunities for expanding our recruitment options and hopefully broaden the diversity of our volunteer base. Much is said about the “new normal” that will be life after COVID-19, I’m hopeful that establishing this new way to engage volunteers will be a positive outcome from a very scary time.