The volunteer hours spent by Steve Osmera and Tom Lowe at CROSS Services in Rogers over the past two years reflect the reasons why CROSS was recently honored with recognition for its programs and use of volunteers.
Points of Light has certified CROSS Services as a Service Enterprise — an organization that leverages volunteers and their skills throughout its organization to successfully deliver on its social mission.
Steve Osmera of Maple Grove became a volunteer after talking with a neighbor who also volunteered. Osmera was retired from working in business as an office, project and inventory manager, among other responsibilities, and wanted to start giving back and using his time to help others. With his wife Pam, he started volunteering at CROSS, painting, remodeling, tiling, and using his resources to find vendors for special projects. He also now sits on the board of directors, concentrating on building opportunities.
"It’s nice to make things welcoming and homey for the people who come here," Osmera said. "And anything I can do to help make CROSS work more efficiently and provide better services is very satisfying."
Tom Lowe and his wife, also retired and living in Maple Grove, have provided many volunteer hours over the past two years. Lowe started in the warehouse and quickly saw other needs that he could help with. His first major contribution was using his sourcing skills as a purchasing manager to help CROSS acquire a large truck. He is always busy using his IT computer skills and handyman talents.
"I’ve enjoyed being called on to do anything that’s needed," said Lowe. "CROSS is a wonderful service."
Lowe’s wife Judy, a retired workers comp adjuster, likes the physical part, working the bread and pastry aisle where she is constantly sorting and shelving items while she helps and visits with clients. "I’m a person who likes meeting new people and giving them an opportunity to share some of themselves."
Less than 15 percent of organizations nationwide can be characterized as a Service Enterprise. It means that CROSS has strong and well developed human resource management practices. The results are evident at CROSS. For every $1 CROSS invests in effective volunteer engagement, it can expect $7.20 in return, well over the average of between $3 and $6.
"I am so proud of the staff team that worked so hard to achieve this honor," said Elizabeth Johnson, CROSS director. "CROSS has been a strong community-supported organization for 39 plus years. It is exciting and energizing to continue to build on these many years of great work for families and individuals in need in our community."
When an organization leverages volunteers and achieves an effective volunteer management model, they lead and manage their organizations better and are also more adaptable, sustainable and better resourced to do their work, based on research conducted by the TCC Group, a national program and evaluation firm.
"We are very excited about what this certification means for CROSS and those we serve," said Stephanie Lehman, volunteer and community outreach director. "Our volunteers are generous, talented, and committed to helping our clients every day. We have found many of our volunteers have work experience and skills that can make CROSS much more effective in our several communities."
To apply for certification, CROSS completed a comprehensive assessment, over 20 hours of training and consulting, and extensive internal planning and change to better integrate volunteers in day-to-day operations. The two-year certification includes opportunities for additional training and access to resources.
Based on the training, CROSS has found new roles for volunteers, such as remodeling, helping with press releases, supporting IT needs, managing competitive bids for projects, and creating greater efficiencies in the clothing store. Contributors now see how volunteers and paid staff work together to maintain a high level of service.
Steve and Pam and Tom and Judy are just four of the many volunteers whose work skills have been mined to make CROSS continue to succeed.
Volunteers come mostly from the communities CROSS serves: Champlin, Corcoran, Dayton, Maple Grove, Osseo and Rogers. CROSS services include the food shelf, clothing store, Meals on Wheels, school packs for kids, and many more.
To find out more about Service Enterprise and other local agencies being honoured with this standing, visit www.mavanetwork.org and go to the Service Enterprise menu.
To find out about volunteer opportunities and other ways to assist CROSS in its mission such as contributing or donating to CROSS, visit the website at www.CROSSservices.org, or contact CROSS at 12915 Weinand Circle, Rogers, MN 55374, or call 763-425-1050.