Mackenzie Cummins

Volunteer Manager, Free Wheelchair Mission

Member Highlight February 2018

Q: Where are you currently working and what do you want us to know about the organization?

A: I am currently working for Free Wheelchair Mission. Our Founder, Don created the organization after a trip abroad where he found many individuals without the means for a mobility solution living on the ground. Using his biomedical engineering background, he developed a low-cost wheelchair designed for use in the developing world. If I could tell you one thing about Free Wheelchair Mission, it would be that we just distributed our millionth wheelchair last year, and are looking to distribute our next million in half the time!

Q: How did you get started managing volunteers?

A: I’ve always worked for nonprofit organizations, but in different capacities. At my last job, I had the opportunity to manage a regular volunteer for a brief period (I’m sure like many of you, wearing different hats within my organization!) and truly loved it. When the opportunity opened up to start managing volunteers in a larger capacity, I couldn’t wait to dig in!

Q: What has been one of your proudest accomplishments in working with volunteers or community engagement?

A: Although volunteer management is relatively new for me, I am always overjoyed to see new volunteers come in and dive right into our work. When I took on this new position, I was tasked with revamping the volunteer program at Free Wheelchair Mission, and was really given ownership to make it my own. My proudest accomplishment is that in the first quarter of managing our new program, our volunteers collectively served over 400 hours to our organization! They are the best!

Q: How were you introduced to DOVIA-LA and what do you enjoy about the group?

A: Like I mentioned, when I first took on my current role, I was relatively new to managing volunteers, as was my organization in general to strategically working with volunteers. As I was searching around for some resources, I stumbled upon DOVIA-LA and boy, am I glad I did! I was able to attend Education Day last year and it was the perfect way to start learning about Volunteer Management. I enjoy most hearing from different speakers from their respective organizations. Even though we all have different missions, I always get a creative spark listening to projects another Volunteer Managers have tried!

Q: Do you have any tips for volunteer managers?

A: I’m pretty new to this, so I don’t think I’m quite qualified to be offering any advice; I am still learning! I would say the best advice I’ve kept in the back of my mind throughout my new journey is “don’t be afraid to ask for help”, and it’s kind of a double whammy. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to ask for help from my peers and gain advice and support from them, and also to ask volunteers for their help and ask them to dig deep and help us. I’m constantly reminding myself that I am not asking for myself, but on behalf of the people we are serving!

Q:  Do you have any hobbies that help you maintain work/life balance?

A: I like to create, so I’m always looking for my next DIY or craft project. I like having something other than work to focus on, it helps me balance my work life and my personal life, although couldn’t we all be better at that?

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: I am very happy to have found DOVIA-LA, I’m excited to be a part of it. I am grateful for all the little nuggets of information I pick up at each meeting and look forward to collaborating with all of you in the future!

For more information about Free Wheelchair Mission, visit their website here.