Case Study

Jackie Lorens
Jackie Lorens, St. Vincent de Paul Parish Soup Kitchen
Location: Chicago, IL
Number of Volunteers: 140
Jobs Scheduled: Meal preparers, coffee servers, sandwich makers
Web Site: St. Vincent de Paul Parish Soup Kitchen
Samantha: Can you tell me a bit about what the Soup Kitchen does?
Jackie: We provide a morning meal six days a week to guests in the Chicago communities. We have a crew of five volunteers who prep for the morning meal. [They] serve the food and coffee, interact with the guests and talk with [guests] when they come in. Then on Saturdays we have a second crew of volunteers that also make sandwiches for the rest of the week.
Samantha: How was volunteer scheduling done in the past? What made you seek out a scheduling solution like Volunteer Scheduler Pro?
Jackie: In the past, volunteers were basically coming in and signing up on a piece of paper, which actually made things really confusing, because people weren't getting reminders, and people were forgetting to come in to sign up to volunteer. It was a combination of people not showing up, people not finding subs, and just trying to get volunteers to come in in the first place.
Samantha: Has VSP been helpful in that regard... in getting more volunteers involved?
Jackie: Oh yeah, I think it's definitely a lot easier. People will email me and ask to be added to the database, or we even have a link on our website so that they can... enroll themselves. I've seen a lot more volunteers come in just because it's a lot easier to access. I think it has become a lot easier to become a volunteer, just because it's more accessible and it's quicker for people.
Samantha: What would you say are the three greatest benefits of VSP for St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen?
Jackie: It's definitely a great communication tool. Not only can we express our need for volunteers, but then we can also express any other announcements in a very easy and accessible way with the Emailer. It's also very user friendly for volunteers to sign up, whether way ahead of time or at the last minute. And then it's also really accommodating for volunteers who might have an emergency situation or conflict and they need a sub. They don't have to go through some sort of phone tree or call me late at night or [just] not show up at all without any explanation. They can just ask for a sub. Not only does it give us peace of mind that we have the volunteers that we need, but it helps the volunteer know that someone is taking over for them, and it gives somebody else an opportunity to volunteer.
Samantha: Do you track the number of hours each volunteer works?
Jackie: I definitely do use that. I track hours to see if people have been regularly committing to volunteering [and] to make sure people are staying on as committed volunteers.
Samantha: How do you use VSP's Emailer, and what has the response been from your volunteers?
Jackie: I use the Emailer more so at the beginning of each season to make announcements. I also use it when there's an increased need for volunteers. We have a lot of student volunteers from DePaul University and they're starting to go on winter break in a couple weeks, so we're going to have an increased need for our parishioners and community members to volunteer. So I just sent out an email a week ago, and it was very helpful for our volunteers to see all of the spots that are open and see that we need more help. I've seen a lot more people taking on assignments.
Samantha: What has your volunteers' response been to using the Web Terminal?
Jackie: It's easier because they don't have to physically come in to sign up. Also they can plan ahead of time and look at their own schedules. People are so willing to volunteer and the system makes it easy to work [around] other commitments.