Volunteerism: An investigation of volunteer experiences in a community development program

by Messer-Knode, Gena, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2007, 111 pages; 3253627


In order to adequately pair volunteers to volunteer projects it is necessary to first determine why people volunteer. Individuals volunteer for a number of reasons, and understanding why people volunteer is crucial in the recruitment and retention of volunteers, however, very little research exists on the essence of the experience of volunteering and how those experiences are understood. This study’s intent was to describe the volunteer effectiveness along with those experiences, which are the avenues to their being effective volunteers, and their meanings in the words of the volunteers themselves. This research explored the volunteer experiences of volunteers working on the Small Town Main Street program in Mount Olive North Carolina. It utilized a phenomenological hermeneutic qualitative research methodology. Tape recorded interviews were conducted with 30 volunteers. Transcripts were then analyzed for common themes and experiences to try and capture the "essence" of the volunteer experience on a community development project, specifically Small Town Main Street. Results indicated that People volunteer for a number of reasons but overwhelmingly Faith/Legacy was the number one reason cited in this study. Seven common themes emerged from the interviews; being asked to serve, history of volunteerism, connection to community, vision and planning, obstacles, faith/legacy and a future for Small Town Main Street. The essence of the volunteer experience in a community development project, specifically the Small Town Main Street project, is produced by an appreciation of a time past: bustling downtowns and quaint Mom-and-Pop retail shops. Volunteers have a connection with history and heritage and affiliation with a group of people and/or a neighborhood. They are deeply rooted in tradition and have a sense of faith and a desire to leave the world a better place than it was.

AdviserSheila Fournier-Bonilla
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsPhilosophy of religion; Management; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3253627

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