Written by: Gracious B. Romero
The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) was invited to give an orientation about Volunteerism during the 2nd Davao Colleges and Universities Network, Inc. (DACUN) Community Extension Social Mobilization webinar entitled “Responding to Volunteerism in Higher Education Institutions among Community Extension amidst the Pandemic” held last 24 February 2021.
PNVSCA’s resource speaker, Mr. Kenneth C. Siruelo, Officer-In-Charge of the Policy, Advocacy and Technical Services Division, emphasized that anybody can be a volunteer as long as a person has the heart and willingness to serve for others.
During the open forum, the discussion centered on how to prepare volunteers for community work who have no experience yet. According to Mr. Siruelo, everyone starts without any experience but “through orientation and proper guidance of program directors and current volunteers, incoming volunteers are given a bird’s eye view on what to expect when they are assigned to their respective communities,” adding that volunteer-engaging and sending organizations should have a Volunteer Management System in place to cover every aspect of volunteer management from multiple angles. He also promoted the Volunteer Management System toolkit which the PNVSCA has developed along with DevConcepts PH.
Another webinar speaker, Dr. Gene A. Nisperos of UP Manila School of Medicine-Pahinungod, shared that another support that may be given to incoming volunteers is to partner them with volunteers who were previously assigned to that specific community so they can easily adjust and for stronger collaboration with that community.
Mr. Remark Z. Mortalla, Head of the San Pedro College Community Extension Services pointed out that conducting team buildings is essential in order for the volunteers to share their experiences especially the challenges they encountered and how they were able to overcome them.
Atty. Marlisa A. Gallo, Head of the Davao City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) shared that volunteers face a lot of challenges even prior to the pandemic, from using their own resources to balancing time with their family, but “if you really want to make a difference for the benefit of others then you will find a way”.
In this time of pandemic, Dr. Nisperos admitted that it is very hard to deploy volunteers due to the threat of COVID-19 because there is a need to protect both the volunteers and the community. But with standard health protocols in place such as the proper wearing of face masks and physical distancing, it can be done cautiously. Since we are in this period of pandemic, Mr. Siruelo encouraged the volunteer managers to develop online volunteer opportunities and to always observe safe physical distance when conducting face to face volunteerism. Mr. Mortalla mentioned that organizations can be creative in implementing their volunteer programs nowadays but they need to be very careful and to wait for the right time before they can be implemented as they need to look into the safety of the volunteers. Around 300 participants consisting of faculty members and students from the DACUN attended the online webinar. DACUN is a network of colleges and universities mutually assisting each other in bringing social transformation in pursuit of truth, inclusiveness, quality education, and sustainable development in Davao and Mindanao.
The author is currently the V4DCAP Program Officer of the Policy, Advocacy and Technical Services Division (PATSD), Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.