Tired of the same old volunteer activities? Looking for a way to connect with those you serve in a meaningful and impactful way? Look no further! Storytelling is an incredible tool that can be used by caregivers, volunteers, and families alike to bond, build relationships, create a shared understanding and ultimately make lasting connections through stories. Using storytelling as a volunteer to connect with those you serve is a unique way to build rapport.
As they say, “a picture paints a thousand words” – well what if we told you stories could do just as much? Through this blog post, we'll uncover how storytelling can be used as an effective and powerful volunteer activity and how The Legacy Recorder can support your efforts!
When There isn’t Enough Time as a Volunteer
As someone who’s volunteered (a lot), I know it usually feels like there is never enough time. Between travel, prep, actually volunteering on-site, and then the recoup time afterward, volunteering takes a special kind of tenacity to continue doing the work. When it comes to working with people in care facilities, hospice, and other care situations, that feeling of no time or compressed time can be downright depressing and make you want to quit.
When I started thinking about volunteering to write letters for people in 2015 as a way to help people feel heard and seen, I knew there wouldn’t be enough time to work with a lot of people. Through a series of fortunate events, I ended up designing the beginnings of what you can find today on The Legacy Recorder website. Over the last 7 years, the storytelling methods you have access to have helped volunteers around the globe build rapport and feel like they have more time to do the work they love, actually work with people.
Facilitating Storytelling Moments as a Volunteer
Storytelling moments can be as little as 2-5min and as long as you want them to be. There is always time to ask someone what made them smile and about their favorite color. These seemingly mundane and simple questions can be the start of a beautiful conversation that leads to stories, connection, and rapport building.
The 5-minute storytelling system is a great way to jump into conversations with the people you are working with and create a storytelling moment. Once you have started that process, you can jump into more in depth storytelling or move on with the rest of your session. Each time you take the opportunity to talk with someone about how they are feeling or what they are excited about, reminds them that they matter, their thoughts matter, and restores their sense of human dignity.
Guided Discussion – Using Storytelling as a Volunteer
To be able to do this with someone, a volunteer needs to be willing to really get to know a person and potentially have one-on-one conversations. Also being able and willing to facilitate group conversations and very intentional guided discussions will help people share parts of their stories in an intentional, engaging and fun way.
Having these guided discussions and ways to record the stories with preset forms or worksheets that the legacy recorder has put together and is really part of the program and process gives the participants, the volunteer, and any family that’s present the chance to have a concrete visual reminder and takeaway from each session.
The guided discussions and completed memory charts or stories are an integral part of having a finished product at the end. The notes and details and pieces of that person’s life are what is used to put together a completed project. The Legacy Recorder has the tools you need to make it easy for yourself, the family, and the storyteller to capture the details from the discussions.
What’s in it for you as the volunteer?
Now let’s talk about benefits from the volunteer’s perspective. Any volunteer that is working with people knows that they can look forward to rewarding sessions, rewarding time, and being able to see a change in the people they work with. To tell you that your experience as a volunteer is priceless isn’t overstating things. It really is an incredible way to connect with another human being.
From the volunteer’s perspective, your potential impact is far beyond what you will see or witness over the course of the person’s lifetime. It may very well be for some people the most defining moment, or one of the most memorable moments they have, was working with you on their legacy project.
Using storytelling as a volunteer gives you the opportunity to look into a person’s life in some of their most vulnerable moments and empower them to celebrate who they are. You may also find that you are able to work with your loved ones and yourself more easily when it comes to asking them or yourself about that their life experiences.
Using The Legacy Recorder as a Resource
Sharing the gift of your time and facilitating storytelling moments is a meaningful gesture for both volunteers and those being served. It can help to create powerful connections between people, bridging generations with stories that preserve invaluable memories and moments in time. I hope this has given you a better understanding of working as a volunteer, using the Legacy Recorder, how it works and why we need to be doing so much more storytelling together.
If you are reading this and you are not volunteering or working with others, please share this with the volunteer in your life, with someone who is maybe a staff person in the care facility where your parents are. These are the kinds of people who can take the Legacy Recorder and really start impacting the people they are working with and serving.