Calling All Volunteers

If an organization is only as strong as its volunteers, then AIHA is very strong indeed. We know that AIHA members have a prominent altruistic streak and are eager to give back to their profession. Many of our members participate in multiple volunteer activities. In recent years we have made more volunteer opportunities available, including many that require relatively short time commitments. We also changed the way we identify potential volunteers by adopting a transparent procedure we refer to as our “open call” process. For these reasons, we have increased our volunteer base with more members contributing to the profession.

OPEN CALL SUCCESSES An open call for volunteers is published on the AIHA website and communicated through several avenues, including an email to the membership and announcements in The Synergist Weekly and on Catalyst. The announcements typically describe the purpose and objectives of the volunteer activity, the process for selecting participants, and the volunteers’ responsibilities and anticipated time commitment. Interested volunteers submit their resumes and complete an application form. These materials are reviewed by the appropriate committee chair or task force representative. From these applicants the chair or representative selects the volunteers, who are then approved by the Board of Directors. This process ensures we are selecting the correct volunteers based on their potential contributions as well as interest. It also reduces using the same persons over and over again. 
People who have never volunteered before, including many young professionals, are responding to the open calls, and they’re doing great work for AIHA.
CYNTHIA A. OSTROWSKI, CIH, is AIHA president and owner of CAO Consulting near Detroit, Mich. She can be reached via email.

The Board is pleased the open call process has resulted in more AIHA members participating in volunteer opportunities. People who have never volunteered before, including many young professionals, are responding to the open calls, and they’re doing great work for AIHA. The Finance Committee and the Content Portfolio Advisory Group (CPAG) are two examples of productive volunteers selected using the open call process. Additional advisory or task forces created new this year include the International Advisory Group (IAG), Technical Initiatives Advisory Group (TI-AG—think apps), and the Leading Health Metrics Task Force (related to the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability). These groups have been tasked by the Board to develop strategies to advance these initiatives for our association and the profession. AIHA NEEDS YOU Every year, AIHA looks for members to serve on committees, advisory groups, and task forces. Committees and advisory groups typically require commitments of approximately three years. Task forces are of shorter duration, usually three to twelve months. Volunteer participation allows the Board and AIHA staff to get to know members on a personal level. Volunteers gain a greater understanding of how AIHA functions. Thanks to the open call process, many members who had not volunteered before—including several early-career professionals—are now contributing to AIHA. We hope these volunteers will go on to serve in greater capacities including becoming Board members. A deep bench of active members with differing perspectives contributes to the overall health of AIHA. If you have been thinking about getting more involved with AIHA, but are not sure where to start, I recommend that you keep an eye on your email and on Catalyst for announcements of open calls. AIHA has an ambitious program of work. We are always in need of volunteers. We may need someone with your experience and abilities to meet our goals. AIHA (and the workers whose health we protect) will benefit from your involvement. Plus, you will get satisfaction from contributing to a great cause and practical experience that looks great on your resume.