Fashion show organizer Amanda Visosky says it's "all about the volunteers"
By Kat Jahnigen
You won’t get very far with Amanda Visosky talking about her contributions to the community. That’s not to say they are few or unimportant. It’s because she’s quick to credit the people she works with – 200 volunteers to be exact – with the success of her work. Visosky is manager of volunteer and complementary services for the Vail Valley Medical Center (VVMC), which includes coordinating the Volunteer Corps and the upcoming Annual Volunteer Corps Fashion Show and Luncheon, now in its 26th year.
“It is the talent of the volunteers that make the program successful,” says Visosky. “The volunteers who are part of the VVMC Volunteer Corps are some of the kindest and most generous people I know.”
But Visosky and the Volunteer Corps have many duties in addition to the fashion show. If you’ve ever been to any VVMC facility – the Vail hospital, Shaw Regional Cancer Center, Sonnenalp Breast Diagnostic Imaging Center or Beaver Creek Medical Center – and received a friendly greeting or helpful directions through the hospital maze, you’ve probably just enjoyed the services of a Volunteer Corps member.
Volunteers bringing compassion
When it was founded over 30 years ago, the group’s purpose was to raise funds for the hospital, which it still does to an impressive degree: in its history the group has raised $1.5 million. However, their range of activities has grown to include assisting staff with nonmedical tasks as well as interacting with patients and visitors to improve the hospital experience. Volunteers do things like provide companionship for hospitalized patients, greet patients and their families or staff the gift shop, which also raises funds for VVMC.
And, according to Dick Woodrow, president of the Volunteer Corps, the personal interaction the volunteers offer is much more valuable than the money raised. “The money we raise is important, but the time we spend, what we give of ourselves, is much more important,” says Woodrow.
“We bring compassion (to the medical facilities),” he says “The doctors and nurses do a great job but they’re always busy, busy, busy. What we do is bring some compassion and some time to the patients. We also do a lot of the little things that the doctors and nurses don’t have time to do. From a financial standpoint, we put in about 10,000 hours – that’s about $60,000 of service. And it’s time well spent.”
Visosky’s claim about the volunteers being the key to success is not far-fetched. In fact, the volunteers had been doing such a good job, that when Visosky came into the position five years ago; they had been running the entire program themselves without a professional coordinator.
“The Volunteer Corps has been in existence since 1979,” says Visosky. “For many years there was not a staff person who helped to coordinate the program. The volunteers already had a great program in place that functioned well.”
Visosky at the helm
When Visosky took the helm, she focused largely on improving the volunteer experience. “There are a lot of different places to volunteer in the valley, and people are giving their time and energy. We want to make this a rewarding experience for folks,” she says.
One of the facets of the program Visosky strengthened was volunteer training. While training may not seem crucial to volunteer satisfaction, it’s important to Visosky that volunteers “feel comfortable in their role.” Greater comfort level means a better experience for all involved.
Another way Visosky works to make the experience rewarding is creating a forum for social interaction for volunteers.
“We try to do special events and casual gatherings to build a real time-building environment so volunteers really feel like they are part of the medical team,” says Visosky.
And to make sure her efforts are effective, Visosky frequently seeks out feedback from volunteers on how to improve the program.
By all accounts Visosky has been successful at creating a fun, rewarding environment for volunteers. “I’ve worked very closely with Amanda – both as president and when I managed the gift shop,” says Woodrow. “And I have the highest regard for her, her talent, her effort level, her sense of humor… She’s a very special lady.”
The feeling is mutual, however. When asked about the best part of her job, Visosky is quick to answer: “Getting to know all of our wonderful volunteers. We have the opportunity to help people have a better day.”