Start and Maintain a Catholic Service Group

STEP 1: Get started by identifying several people to organize and/or facilitate the start-up

1. Identify 2 or 3 young people interested in service, service projects, helping others, putting our faith into action, etc. Good to have a pair or three people to share responsibilities, generate various ideas and work together to implement.

2. Meet. You’ll want 1-2 initial meetings together to iron out (a) your purpose (b) practices (c) roles (see Step Two below)

3. Once #2 is established, get serving!

STEP 2: Meet to establish purpose, practices, and roles

Taking time to establish this step will help put form and function to your group. Again, its helpful to have at least 2-3 people get together to identify the purpose, practices and roles for establishing the group.

Questions to ask to help facilitate each step of this meeting:

1. Purpose = the reasons why we come together to serve

Who or what taught you to serve?
Why do you want to start a service group?
What is community? How do you build community?

2. Practices = intentional virtues we want to cultivate

How will we serve? (love, compassion, mercy, non-judgment, solidarity, etc) Who will we serve? Our neighbors? Those far away? The poor? The wealthy?
Everyone? No one? Our selves? God and God alone? People like us? The Stranger? People that like us? People we like? People who dislike us? People whom we dislike? Our environment? Animals? Friends? Individuals? People who need us? People whom we need?

3. Roles = structured ways of getting “jobs” done (aka logistics)

What gifts do I (we each) have that will contribute to the life of our group?
What kind of environment do we want to create amongst those in our group? (ex. invitational, simple, etc) How will we do this?
What are some barriers to serving others? Barriers others might find for not participating in our group?
What will encourage young adults to continue to serve with our group? Will our group help participants process their service experience?
Who or how will we hold participants accountable and responsible for the service experience?
Will we have prayer before and/or after service project or activity?

STEP 3: Further identify and select specific roles for coordination, organization and communication of group

This helps establish (a) What needs to be done? (b) When should it be done? (c) Who should do it?

1. When do we serve? Encouraged to set a specific date that can become a regular and/or specific date and time each month, for example. This will help create continuity to your group.

2. Where do we serve? Identify one person as the “Organization Selector”. This person selects the organization, makes contact with the volunteer coordinator at the organization and coordinates details of the service activity or project.

3. Who will lead prayer and/or reflection? Will we use a specific method of prayer, the same prayer each time, etc? Do we need to designate a prayer person? What kinds of reflection methods should we use? How should the discussion be directed? How can faith be incorporated into the reflection?

4. How will we invite others to join our group? Establish one person as “Greeter”. This person serves as the one who others can send a referral or request about what the group does. This person is also responsible for identifying others to take on a “role” to keep group established.

5. Identify one person as “Communication Coordinator”. Encouraged to establish a Facebook group and/or post on Parish’s page re: upcoming events; also consider establishing a Google or Yahoo group; send weekly or monthly emails detailing the next service project or activity. This person would also maintain a current list of names and email addresses of all participants.

These roles can change monthly or perhaps every 6 months to one year. Adding “helpers” to each role can reduce the burden and allow less experienced members to get their feet wet, which increases participation even more.

STEP 4: Next Steps…Get Serving!

Once purpose, practices and roles have been identified, get serving!

1. Arrange the service project or activity (Organization Selector)

2. Advertise upcoming service project or activity (Communication Coordinator)

a. Encourage Greeter to speak at Parish Masses
b. Put in parish bulletin
c. Post with other YAM Diocesan events

3. Let participants know what to expect prior to service project or activity (Communication Coordinator)

a. Send directions / Location
b. Parking
c. What to wear
d. What you’ll be doing
e. Date & Time
f. Name of organization & their mission

STEP 5: Evaluation

One last step to consider is evaluation. How will we evaluate our group’s internal coordination, organization and communication?

1. How will we know participants are having a good experience?

2. Can we develop a way for participants to provide feedback? (ex. survey monkey?) Often the service organization might have a tool or resource for this.

OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION

How do we know if we should volunteer at a particular organization? What makes a good experience at the organization?

Questions to ask organization prior to arranging service activity or project:

⦁ What is the organization’s mission, vision and values?
⦁ Do you have a general policy regarding volunteer involvement with your organization?
⦁ Do you have a volunteer coordinator?
⦁ Does your organization have any principles or expectations for volunteers?
⦁ Does your organization have a liability policy for volunteers?
⦁ What are some examples of work a volunteer might do? (direct service or indirect service)
⦁ Do you have projects available during evening hours or on Saturdays or Sundays?
⦁ Do participants have to have a background check? (criminal and/or child abuse)
⦁ Do participants have to have a special skill? If so, what kind?
⦁ Do participants have to have any training prior to service?
⦁ Will someone be available to provide an orientation of the organization upon our arrival?
Who will greet us?
⦁ Our group will also need clear directions on how the service project should be done and completed. Will this person stay with us throughout the service project until it is completed?
⦁ What should we bring with us?
⦁ Is there any particular kind of clothing we should avoid?
⦁ Are facilities and resources adequate and safe? Are there any hazards or injuries that might be expected from this kind of project?
⦁ If volunteering takes place during a meal time, please ask if participants should expect to bring their own meal.