There’s a tradition amongst staff at Volunteer Fairfax…maybe at other volunteer operations also…it is commonly known as VolunTOLD.  When staff recruits the help of family and friends to assist with volunteer projects, you’ve been VolunTOLD!

It is a real thing.  The Urban Dictionary lists volunTOLD as “mandatory volunteering.”  The VF definition would read more like “heart volunteering.”    Here are just a few VolunTOLD stories from VF…

Nadia Hoonan, RSVP Manager:  With a big Rebuilding Together project looming, Nadia was concerned about having enough hands to complete all the tasks.  So, she recruited extra hands from her family…naturally!  Her husband Kevin and sister-in-law, Maia donned a Rebuilding Together shirt and grabbed paint brushes.  It was great day! Spirits were high and many hands made light work.  But being volunTOLD doesn’t stop there. Kevin has also cut fleece for doggie chew toys. “We sat on the floor, watched movies, and cut fleece.”  Maia has donated her graphic design skills for several important projects. Both Kevin and Maia have officially joined Volunteers for Change with just a bit of encouragement from Nadia.  “All in all, it’s just great having family supporting the cause. They are always willing to lend a hand.”

Emily Swenson, COO:  As a veteran of 17 years with VF, Emily has endlessly volunTOLD her family members.  Her children, Charlotte 10, Aubrey 8 and Garrett 4, are always present at our family-friendly service days.  They rake if raking is needed; they create if artistic cards are needed. And, they are ready models posing in event t-shirts. Emily’s parents have lent their electronic equipment so an event could have sound, and dad helped pack up a UHaul for a 9/11 project. Brother Todd, a talented photographer, has been recruited to capture beautiful photos at special events.  Husband Chris is the support for all of Emily’s long days of creating better community through service.  Service is truly a Swenson family affair!

Angela Starling:  Friends are also great targets for voluntold projects! In her VF office, Angela sits at a desk built by a family friend with a tool box.  And, a neighbor with a truck is always a handy volunTOLD partner!  Additionally, Angela’s family has grown up being volunTOLD. They would blow balloons. Decorate and undecorate.  Hold banners in a parade. Work an information booth.  Apply labels. Stuff envelopes.  Etc.  Etc. One Thanksgiving, son Micah was scheduled to come home from his out-of-state university.  Here comes the volunTOLD:  “Need your help at the holiday train rides, please.”  “Sure!” said the mid-term weary college guy. He didn’t sleep in. Or party. He stood with mama on a very cold day helping families enjoy their rides.  Daughter Leanna has logged hundreds of hours volunteering and volunTOLDING.  One morning during high school Spirit Week, she came out of her room wearing her VF VolUnteer t-shirt, not her usual for school. Why? She said, “Today is Super Power Day.”

Family members and friends of VF staff are accustomed to a steady whirlwind of activity, discussion of project plans, supplies in the car, events coming and going, and calls for help.  They also gain a satisfaction of knowing that, through these volunTOLD assignments, they too are building a better community through service.  BUT, the best part, no doubt, are the wonderful memories being made through heart volunteering, memories that will far outlast the raking and the envelope stuffing.

At Volunteer Fairfax, we encourage family and friend volunteering and volunTOLDing! It’s great way to enjoy quality time with loved ones while serving the community. Check out VolunteerNowor the Just for Youth Service Directory for opportunities.