VOLUNTEER HANDBOOK AND POLICIES
(Updated September 22, 2022)
Rescue Mission – Mission Statement
We put LOVE INTO ACTION through food, clothing, shelter and hope.
Volunteer Services Mission
The Volunteer Services team provides the opportunity for connection between the Rescue Mission and individuals, families, and community groups. Volunteer Services matches volunteer abilities with organizational needs and cultivates strong relationships that result in positive public relations and increased support. The team is committed to recognize, acknowledge and cultivate volunteers as donors of valuable time.
Volunteer Services Goals
- Recruit, select, orientate and train volunteers
- Utilize volunteers to supplement and support staff
- Maintain and gather statistical information to measure volunteer contributions to the Rescue Mission.
Volunteer Definitions and Categories
Who is a Volunteer?
A volunteer is a person giving their time and skills without any present or future expectation of payment of any kind. The volunteer is under no obligation to provide time, duties or resources other than what he or she chooses to freely provide; this is not an employment relationship. There is a clear distinction between employee and volunteer.
Types of Volunteers
- General – An individual or group that freely wants to volunteer their time to the Rescue Mission; they may do this on an ongoing or periodic basis.
- Service/Mandated – An individual or group that needs to volunteer to fulfill a court, school, church or program requirement; usually for a set number of hours.
- Rescue Mission Clients and Residents – Individuals who are currently using or have used Rescue Mission services in the past are required to wait a year from the date they last used services before they are eligible to volunteer, unless a written recommendation has been provided by their Case Manager. Services include staying at the shelter, eating at Food Service, or shopping at the Community Clothing Center.
VOLUNTEER CODE OF CONDUCT
Compliance incidents will be tracked and evaluated. Failure to comply may result in termination or suspension.
- While volunteering, a volunteer’s focus should be on the scheduled service project/program.
- Volunteers agree to work their entire volunteer shift as scheduled, to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, to dress in attire that follows the volunteer dress code (see Page 10), to follow safety procedures, and to be prepared for their shift.
- If a volunteer cannot make a scheduled shift, it is important to notify the Volunteer Services Office ahead of time and the department for which they are scheduled (Thrifty Shopper, Food Service, etc.).
- Volunteers should refrain from bringing cell phones, headphones, iPods or any other electronic devices to their scheduled shift. The Rescue Mission assumes no responsibility for lost, stolen or broken items.
- Volunteers represent the Rescue Mission and they promise not to engage in any activity that could cause harm to the organization, to others or to themselves.
- When volunteers arrive at the volunteer placement site, they will be required to sign in using the VolunteerHub sign-in system. Volunteers should sign in upon arrival and sign out when they depart. If volunteers are unable to sign in and out, they should let their site supervisor know immediately.
- Volunteers will not exchange money, goods or services either with clients or customers*.
- Volunteers will refrain from initiating a personal or emotional relationship with any client or client’s family.
- Volunteers agree not to disclose any written or oral information about clients, employees, donors, volunteers, customers or other confidential information – i.e. organization finances. Volunteers understand that the Rescue Mission has a legal and ethical responsibility to maintain client, employee, donor, volunteer and customer privacy.
- Volunteers will not take photos or videos while on Rescue Mission property without prior permission from a Rescue Mission employee.
- Theft from any Rescue Mission premises will result in immediate termination
- Volunteers are subject to termination at any time for inappropriate behavior as determined by Rescue Mission staff.
*A volunteer may be asked to handle monetary transactions during select volunteer service opportunities, including but not limited to Rescue Mission Special Events – ie: 50/50 Raffle Ticket Sales. Volunteers cannot help fund the purchase of any 50/50 tickets. Volunteers must arrive 1 hour before Syracuse Mets game time for preparation and practice with the 50/50 selling device. Theft or tampering with the 50/50 raffle will result in immediate termination and possible law enforcement involvement.
RESCUE MISSION VOLUNTEER POLICIES
- Food Service: Volunteers must be at least 12 years old. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult accompanied by an adult.
- Community Clothing Center: Volunteers must be at least 16 years old. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult accompanied by an adult.
- Emergency Shelter: Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
- Crossroads Adult Home: Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
- Holiday Meal Delivery: All ages welcome; Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult accompanied by an adult.
- Syracuse Mets 50/50 Raffle: Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
- All Other Rescue Mission Special Events: Age requirements vary by specific event and/or volunteer task. Youth and adult opportunities are usually available.
- Binghamton Rescue Mission: Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
- Auburn Rescue Mission: Age requirements vary by specific volunteer opportunity.
- Thrifty Shopper Stores: Volunteers must be at least 10 years old. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult accompanied by an adult.
- Donation Redistribution Center: Volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult accompanied by an adult.
- Off-Site Activities: Children and adults of all ages can participate in off-campus projects for the Rescue Mission (examples: decorating bags, donations drives, care packages, lemonade stand to benefit the Rescue Mission)
Volunteers are subject to an annual screening process before they are allowed to volunteer with the Rescue Mission. Such screenings may include: DOJ Sex Offender Registry, criminal background check, or review of DMV abstract.
Volunteers are expected to maintain professional boundaries with clients, customers and staff.
- No volunteer shall disclose personal information to a client for any reason. This includes home address, maiden name, personal history, etc. This is to help protect all volunteers while at work, at home, and after volunteering with the Rescue Mission.
- Volunteers are not permitted to receive gifts of any value from any client. This includes items and information offered without direct relevance to Rescue Mission related duties.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Food or beverages (candy bar, take-out, soda etc.)
- Clothing or jewelry
- Money or gift certificates (cash, phone cards, coupons, etc.)
- Volunteers are not permitted to conduct non-Rescue Mission business of any sort with any client that involves the exchange of money or goods.
- All volunteers are required to disclose any prior relationship with a Rescue Mission client to their supervisor. Prior relationships include but are not limited to.
- Family relationships
- Dating history
- Business relationships
- Friend of family
- No volunteer is permitted to transport any client in their personal vehicle unless otherwise permitted in his/her job description.
- If a client crosses one of these boundaries, the volunteer must politely refuse the request/offer and immediately notify their supervisor.
- Volunteers may not, under any circumstances, initiate, begin or maintain a personal or emotional relationship with any client or client’s family.
- This policy is in addition to all policies issued by the Human Resources department and is not intended to change or replace that policy.
- Volunteers are required to disclose any misdemeanor or felony convictions on their volunteer profile. A conviction is not necessarily a disqualifier for volunteer service at the Rescue Mission. Factors such as conviction date, rehabilitation, seriousness and nature of the violation will be taken into account. All convictions will be evaluated by Rescue Mission staff on a case by case basis to determine eligibility for volunteer service.
- It is the Rescue Mission’s obligation to protect its clients, volunteers and staff; therefore, volunteers with specific offenses are not permitted at serve at certain program/service locations.
- Misdemeanor or felony convictions involving theft or burglary will not be permitted to volunteer at any Thrifty Shopper store or the Syracuse Mets 50/50 Raffle.
- Registered sex offenders will not be accepted as volunteers.
- Rescue Mission employees undergo a drug screen as part of the hiring process. Volunteers working in program areas may be asked to submit to a drug screen as part of their volunteer background check. Failure to submit to a drug screen will result in volunteer ineligibility.
Groups and Families
- Groups and families volunteering at the Rescue Mission should have a maximum ratio of five youth to one adult.
- If a volunteer has a diagnosed intellectual or developmental disability, the Rescue Mission requires a one-to-one aide, helper, parent/guardian to assist them during volunteer activities.
- With supervision, volunteers must be able to do quality work with acceptable quantity.
- The supervisor (group leader) must remain with and personally supervise their group.
Health Screening for Volunteers
- Volunteers should call in sick if they are ill, have tested positive for a communicable illness, show symptoms of a communicable illness, or have exhibited a fever over 100.5 degrees within 48 hours.
- All volunteers MUST complete a temperature check upon arrival at their volunteer site. If a volunteer exhibits a fever of 100.5 or higher, they will be asked to leave.
- Any volunteer that exhibits symptoms of a communicable illness will be sent home.
- Volunteers must comply with all NYS public health guidance and requirements, including but not limited to: quarantine, vaccination, and mask wearing. Requirements vary by program and are subject to change by the NYS Dept. of Health. The most up to date guidance can be found at: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home
- Volunteers will be terminated immediately if they do not follow Volunteer health protocols.
Insurance for Nonpaid Staff
- A nonpaid individual – volunteer or service site person – who incurs an injury, while donating time or services to the Rescue Mission, must be covered by his/her own medical insurance.
- If a nonpaid individual is injured while driving a vehicle, while donating time or services to the Rescue Mission, his/her automobile insurance provides the primary coverage.
- The Rescue Mission’s liability insurance is the secondary insurance for any nonpaid individual in the performance of his/her services to the Mission.
- RSVP volunteers are covered by their liability insurance (Catholic Charities Elderly Services) if injured while volunteering at the Mission. An incident report must be faxed to them at the time of the incident.
Student Volunteers at Syracuse 3fifteen Store
- Students completing community service at the 3fifteen store (Syracuse) are limited to a maximum of 25 hours of total service working at the store. Students are able to volunteer at other Rescue Mission locations beyond the 25 hours of service.
- It is encouraged that volunteers who have direct and frequent client contact should have additional training in order to volunteer. Depending on the volunteer role, verbal conflict management training may be required. This training should take place within the first 3 months of volunteering. The volunteer training is the responsibility of the Rescue Mission program supervisor.
- Volunteers who will complete administrative work/data entry for their volunteer service will need a Rescue Mission log in created. Volunteer Services will inform the program area that a “computer access request” must be submitted to Rescue Mission IT by the program area.
Volunteer Dismissal Policies
- Theft from any Rescue Mission premises will result in immediate termination.
- Volunteers are subject to termination at any time for inappropriate behavior as determined by Rescue Mission staff.
Rescue Mission Photo/Information Release
I authorize the Rescue Mission Alliance, hereafter referred to as “Rescue Mission”, to publish photographs, video and interview material taken of me, for use in the Rescue Mission’s print, online and video-based marketing materials and communications.
I release and hold harmless the Rescue Mission from any reasonable expectation of confidentiality associated with the images specified above as well as information disclosed during any interview with Rescue Mission marketing staff.
I acknowledge that my participation is voluntary.
I release the Rescue Mission, its contractors, its employees, and any third parties involved in the creation or publication of its marketing materials from liability for any claims by me or any third party in connection with my participation.
VOLUNTEER JOB DESCRIPTIONS
Activities Coordinator (Client Interaction: high)
Provide different activities for the clients who are in the Day Center/Crossroads. Play cards, BINGO, board games, etc. Volunteers must be 18+ years of age.
Administrative/Receptionist (Client Interaction: low)
Assist with essential office work by need of department, including answering phones, computer work and assisting with donations as they come in. Volunteers must be 18+ years of age.
Community Clothing Center (Client Interaction: high)
Assist customers shopping at our Community Clothing Center (CCC), where merchandise given away to anyone in need. Help stock shelves or sort merchandise. The CCC is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday from noon-5PM. Volunteers must be 16+ years of age. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Donation Sorter (Client Interaction: low)
Help sort donated clothing and household items at our Liverpool warehouse for redistribution to our Thrifty Shopper stores. Volunteers must be 14+ years of age. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Employment Resource Assistant (Client Interaction: high)
Help those staying in our shelter develop skill sets to help them find employment. Previous experience with resumes and job searching is helpful. Volunteers must be 18+ years of age.
Groundskeeper (Client Interaction: medium)
Assist in the spring, summer and fall with outside projects such as planting flowers, mowing, raking and trimming bushes to make the Rescue Mission main campus an inviting place for clients and visitors. Volunteers must be 12+ years of age. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Food Service/Kitchen Helper (Client interaction: medium)
Help prepare, serve and clean up at breakfast, lunch and dinner for Rescue Mission clients and residents. Volunteers must be 12+ years of age. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Maintenance Helper (Client interaction: low)
Provide preventive maintenance or repairs, install lighting, or paint. Some prior experience or knowledge is helpful. Volunteers must be 18+ years of age.
Shelter Assistant (Client interaction: high)
Assist staff in maintaining the safety and comfort of our clients, whether it is helping out in our Day Drop-in Center or our Emergency Shelter. Volunteers must be 18+ years of age.
Spiritual Life Assistant (Client interaction: medium)
Assist the Spiritual Life team with weekly services and other events throughout the year. Volunteers must be 18+ years of age.
Thrifty Shopper Store Assistant (Client interaction: none)
Assist customers shopping at one of our 18 Thrifty Shopper stores, where merchandise is sold to support Rescue Mission services. Flexible hours 7 days as a week. Volunteers must be 10+ years of age. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Special Events Assistant (Client interaction: none)
Assist staff in the execution special events. Age requirements vary, Volunteers assisting with the 50/50 raffle at Syracuse Mets home games must be 18+.
Holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter) Volunteers (Client interaction: medium)
Age requirements vary. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Volunteer-led activities including crafts, meal bag/placement decorating, holiday gift purchasing, lemonade stands to benefit the Rescue Mission, care bag preparation, etc. All ages welcome, Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Please email Volunteer Services with total hours for tracking purposes.
Churches, schools, companies and other groups can support the Rescue Mission by conducting drives to collect items for the people we serve. Event/Drive posters are available from the Rescue Mission upon request. Listed below are some of our ongoing needs.
Toiletries: Collect and organize personal hygiene items for men and women, including shaving cream, disposable razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs/brushes, hand and body lotions, soap, feminine hygiene, sunscreen, and Chapstick.
Clothing Essentials: Collect and organize NEW socks, men’s/women’s t-shirts/sweatshirts/sweatpants/leggings, men’s/women’s underwear, women’s sports bras.
Blankets, Towels and Sheets: Collect and organize new or gently used towels, blankets and sheets for our shelter and residential programs.
Winter Gear: Collect and organize new hats, gloves or scarves, and/or new or gently used coats and boots to outfit our residents during the winter.
All food donations must be prepared in a certified, inspected Kitchen that meets all health code regulations. Typical venues that have a certified kitchen are churches, restaurants, VFW Auxiliary halls, etc. All cooks must wear a hairnet or cap, gloves and an apron.
We will accept store-bought food donations year-round. Most needed items include: Frozen Turkeys, Hams, Pies, Non-Perishable, Single Serve Items, Canned Goods (#10 size preferred). These food donations should be delivered to the back door of the Clarence L. Jordan Food Service Center (148 Gifford Street, Syracuse)
VOLUNTEER DRESS CODE
Rescue Mission volunteers must be appropriately dressed for their required service. Volunteers without appropriate attire will be asked to leave Rescue Mission service sites.
General Dress Code:
Short-or-long-sleeved shirts or blouses (no sleeveless attire). Pants must be worn at the waist. Please refrain from wearing shorts or skirts shorter than 4 inches above the knee. Closed-toe shoes only (no sandals or flip-flops). Clothing must not display profanity of any kind.
Attended Donation Centers:
Long pants or capris required
Crossroads Adult Home:
If serving meals, a hat, cap or hair wrap is required. Hair net/Beard cover will be provided.
Donation Redistribution Center:
Durable work clothing should be worn, choose items that you don’t mind getting dirty or dusty; Pants or capris required; No jewelry (Earrings, watches, bracelets etc.).
Food Service Center:
Skirts must be ankle length; No capris or shorts, long pants only; Hat, cap or hair wrap is required, a hair net or beard cover will be provided. Aprons and gloves will be provided.
Grounds Keeping and Maintenance:
Work clothing should be worn, choose items that you don’t mind getting dirty or dusty; pants or capris required (no shorts or skirts)
You must report any incident involving you, an employee, or a client to your work site supervisor immediately. Even when it does not appear an injury has resulted, a report to your supervisor is important and necessary.
Important Client Safety Information
- Client Identification. Be sure to know who you are working with.
- . Be sure not to talk about patient issues in any public area.
- Equipment Safety. Report any broken or difficult-to-use equipment to your supervisor for replacement or repair. Report any frayed electrical cords, spills, etc. to your supervisor or by using the Red Hazard Identification Cards.
- Understand how to use client equipment before use. i.e. wheelchairs, oxygen tanks.
- Hand Hygiene. Wash and disinfect hands, after any personal encounter with another person, before eating and anytime in between.
Any unsafe (or potentially unsafe) act:
IMMEDIATELY REPORT to your supervisor any event involving volunteer injury or potential injury. If necessary, complete and submit a Hazard Identification Card.
Fire and Safety Procedures
All volunteers are expected to participate in scheduled fire drills in their work areas. Your supervisor has the responsibility to review the specific fire evacuation plan and procedures for your area. Ask your supervisor to show you where the fire extinguishers, exits, first aid kits, AEDs, and manual fire alarm pull stations are located in your area of assignment. A fire/fire drill is announced with an audible fire alarm signal in the building where the alarm is initiated.
Most fire extinguishers in the Rescue Mission can be used on any fire. To operate an extinguisher, remember the acronym P-A-S-S.
P – Pull Pin.
A – Aim at the base of the fire.
S – Squeeze lever or handle.
S – Sweep agent at the base of flames
You can find extinguishers in fire closets and work areas. Make sure you know their exact location in your assigned areas.
Electrical shocks can be prevented. Regulations require that staff or volunteers using electrical equipment to learn about safety in operations. Only use equipment as intended, and keep clothing, hair and hands away from moving parts. Check the equipment before every use for potential problems. Report any possible equipment problems to your supervisor immediately.
Materials Handling and Lifting
All volunteers and employees are encouraged to work together when handling heavy or bulky items. Be sure to always test an item before lifting, to be sure you can handle the item by yourself, never be afraid to ask for assistance.
- Always ask for help with heavy items.
- Always have a route planned before you lift.
- Obtain a solid grip and lift with your knees and a straight back.
- Hold the item close to your body to reduce lower back strain.
- Never twist at your waist to change direction, always move your feet with your entire body.
- When putting the item down, always bend at your knees.
Staff and volunteers should know how to protect themselves from hazardous spills, which are classified as either a biohazard or chemical hazard. A biohazard spill involves blood or bodily fluids, while a chemical hazard spill contains a caustic, flammable, reactive and/or toxic element.
Spills of this nature must be isolated to prevent tracking or spreading the hazard. Volunteers are to notify the closest employee of the situation. The Rescue Mission employee will then contact the Facilities team to be sure the spill is clean up following the appropriate procedures.
Personal Protective Equipment
- Latex gloves (or non) should always be worn when cleaning up spills involving chemicals or bodily fluids.
- Respiratory protection (face masks, respirators etc.) should be worn when working in environments hazardous to the respiratory system, such as dusty environments. Face masks must also be worn when ill, or as directed by public health authorities.
- Hearing protection is available to all volunteers and employees when working in environments which exposes the person to decibel levels greater than 80 dB/8 hours.
- Head protection is available to all volunteers and employees when working in an environment where injury is possible to the head.
- Fall protection equipment is available to all volunteers and employees when working from height and where falls are possible.
Food Service Guidelines
- Proper handling of food will prevent food-borne illness.
- Notify your supervisor of any food related allergies. i.e. peanut allergy.
- Wash hands before serving food.
- Always use gloves and a hairnet (individuals with facial hair must wear mustache and beard covers) when preparing or serving food.
- Follow temperature guidelines for safe preparation, service and storage of foods in compliance with the Department of Health Standards.
- If available, always where steel mesh gloves when cutting.
- Always cut away from your body when using a knife to prepare food.
- Always use proper oven mitts and gloves when handling food out of the oven/on the stove.
- Always turn the oven burner off first before removing a pan from the stove as to prevent burns to yourself or others.
- Completely wet your hands.
- Apply soap.
- Work up a good lather and spread soap suds over your hands and wrists. Get soap under and around your nails, between your fingers and backs of your hands, for at least 15 seconds.
- Rinse well, holding hands and fingertips down, under running water.
- Dry thoroughly with paper towels.
- Using the paper towel, turn off the faucet. Do not touch the faucet with your hands after washing. The faucet is considered dirty. Dispose of your paper towel in a waste bin.