Q & A with Gwen Hourihan; Coordinator of Volunteer and Community Programs
Union Station Homeless Services
Q: Where are you currently working and how long have you been managing volunteers?
A: I am the Coordinator of Volunteer Services and Community Programs at Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena. I celebrated my one year anniversary in March 2015 but started as a temp over a year and a half ago. Prior to USHS I managed volunteers under my title as event manager for over ten years. My main responsibilities include helping manage volunteer placement, supervision and communication with approximately 3,000 volunteers, including over 200 regular volunteers and over 60 regular groups in our seven facilities.
Q: How were you introduced to DOVIA-LA and what do you enjoy about the group?
A: I was introduced to DOVIA by my supervisor at Union Station. I was thrilled that such a resource exists. DOVIA provided me the opportunity to meet and discuss volunteer administration with other professionals in the field.
Q: What’s a memorable volunteer story?
A: One of the many memorable stories is of a woman who works in our Adult Center emergency shelter helping the Security Team at the front desk. She let us know that her first day was so emotional she cried because of the many struggling community members she saw that day. She reached out to us, we discussed her understanding of the position, and she is now volunteering three days a week at that facility! It was very touching that she was so moved by the people we serve and the care that our staff shows the community members in need.
Q: You are in the process of receiving your CVA, how has it been going?
A: The CCVA is fantastic at communicating information on the CVA process. I really appreciate their dedication to advancing the position of volunteer administrator and am excited to take the test and complete the practical application process. I appreciate the opportunity to further my knowledge and education in this area.
Q: Do you have any tips for volunteer managers??
A: We believe in quick responses to all inquiries in our department and I see its value as a sign of respect while putting our best selves forward. I also hold two aspects of my job as crucial: safety and ethics. Maintaining a positive attitude/positive department helps our organization’s reputation as one that values people who take time out of their lives to help us.
Q: Do you have any hobbies that help you maintain work/life balance?
A: My number one hobby is spending time with family and friends. That time includes walking our dogs, going to the theater and movies, and gardening. Gardening I usually end up doing alone which is just fine as I also enjoy my “solo down time.”