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Thanks to all of you volunteers who are helping to make UNITY a positive and meaningful experience for everyone. We’ve compiled a list of Q&A to help you prepare for your shift. Please let us know if you have other questions and we can post answers here for you and other volunteers. 

Volunteer Q & A

Where do I go to report for my shift?  UNITY is in the open lot adjacent to 2213 Mt. Vernon Avenue (Bean Creative). Go to the “Volunteer Check-In” sign. If there’s nobody there, look for Nancy Belmont. If this is your first shift, please try to arrive a few minutes early so we can give you a UNITY t-shirt and assign you to a station.

How can I get there?  If you take Metro, go to Braddock Road and walk or bike about 1.3 miles north to the location. There are Capitol Bike Shares at the Metro and right in front of the UNITY. If you are driving, look for street parking available on side streets. Mt. Vernon Ave. has a two-hour time limit, but the side streets do not.

Do I need to wear my UNITY shirt when I volunteer?   The first 50 volunteers to sign up will receive a UNITY t-shirt. It is highly preferred that you wear your shirt during your shift. We want participants to know who to ask for help as they go through their UNITY experience. Be sure to wear whatever else will make you feel comfortable for the weather.

Is there a place to change?  There is no place on-site, but there are several restaurants close by and we will ask them if we can send volunteers there to use the rest rooms. You can also do the one t-shirt over another switcheroo. If you’re volunteering for any shift other than the first shift, you can stop by for your shirt during operating hours in advance of your shift.

What will I be doing?  We need volunteers for different stations. Depending on the number of volunteers at any given time, you may be asked to perform any of these duties. If you have a preference, please let the volunteer coordinator know.

Greeters: Welcome people at the entrance. Explain what UNITY is. Walk participants through a handout explaining how to map their journey. Direct them to the center UNITY pole.

A few important points: 1) participants should try to create a criss-cross pattern as they link to each identifier, 2) they should pull the yarn taut and keep it above their heads if possible, 3) we may have photographers and videographers on-site. Unless they explicitly state they do not want to be in images capturing the event, they acknowledge that they may appear in UNITY materials. If someone states they do not want to be in photos/videos, please direct them to Nancy so she can inform photographers.

You’ll be great for this post if you like interacting with people and giving directions. We want to create a welcoming atmosphere and make people feel comfortable and safe to engage. If you speak multiple languages, this is a good spot for you. We will have materials printed in Spanish, but it would be great to welcome visitors in their native tongue if we have multilingual volunteers.

UNITY Pole: The center pole is where participants’ journeys start and end. You will give people a skein of yarn and encourage them to follow the path they’ve mapped out. Remind participants to hold the yarn above their heads and pull the yarn taut. Inform them that they should return to the center when they’re done.

You’ll be great for this post if you can handle a lot of different people asking you for yarn all at once while remaining calm and smiling. A sense of humor is an asset. Depending on the flow, we may have two people at the UNITY pole to help manage the process.

UNITY Circle: These volunteers will be located around the circle helping to pull the yarn tight and push the yarn above head level.

You’ll be great for this post if you can reach to about 8 feet high. Kids will be holding their yarn low, so you’ll need to engage with them to let them know you’re pushing their yarn up so people can walk under it.

UNITY Band: At the end of their experience, we’ll offer participants the opportunity to take a piece of UNITY with them by tying a piece of the signature colored yarn around their wrists. This bracelet will remind them of their experience and also serves as a conversation piece to engage with others about UNITY. It’s an opportunity to continue the conversation beyond making their ties.

You’ll be great for this post if you can cut string and tie knots. You’ll also have to touch other people as you tie the string around their wrists for them. They might be sweaty. You might be sweaty. Embrace the connection.

Exit and Thank You: When people are done with their experience, we’ll offer them a card with the UNITY logo on one side and some questions for further reflection on the other. We will also invite them to sign up for our mailing list if they would like to receive inspiring content and updates on UNITY and future projects.

We want to make people feel like they have been part of an important project that is helping to put more positivity and connectedness into the world. You’ll thank them for their participation, let them know that their participation made a difference, and encourage them to have their friends and family come.

We’ll ask participants to leave their maps so we can capture the data in an anonymous database. We hope this will allow us to understand our similarities and differences to further the conversation.

You’ll be great at this post if you are curious about people’s experience and want to encourage their further thinking. A great way to start the conversation is to ask what they learned about themselves as they went through the experience. This opens the door for you to offer them the card with questions for reflection as well as offer them e-mails that can further their exploration.

Floater: Depending on how many volunteers we have and how busy UNITY is, we may have floaters to give people breaks, run errands like getting ice or pens, etc.

You’ll be great at this job if you like a variety of tasks and don’t mind doing whatever it takes to create a smooth experience.

Are there other things we need to do as volunteers?  All volunteers will be asked to make people feel welcome and included. It’s our job to create a positive and meaningful experience. If you see someone who looks like they don’t know what to do, welcome them and try to help. This is a grand experiment. Be patient, flexible and engage your sense of humor if things don't go as you expect. 

During shift changes, we may ask you to ramp up the new volunteers coming to take over your shift. If your schedule allows, it would be helpful if you could teach them the ropes.

Introduce Nancy to any people who really want to tell their stories. We will share UNITY stories on social media. Also, please point any members of the media to Nancy.

On opening night, we will have a kids’ table with watercolors. Because we are launching with DRBA’s First Thursday “Paint Del Ray,” we want to encourage kids to paint. We have UNITY coloring sheets where kids can fill in what UNITY means to them. A volunteer may be assigned to this table, but is not expected to take over for parents.

Will there be food/drinks for the volunteers?  We will provide water and fruit for volunteers. Feel free to bring your own snacks that allow you to feel nourished and refreshed. We will have a cooler, but there is no onsite refrigeration available. There are also a number of restaurants and shops nearby if you need something more substantial.

Can I get school credit for my service hours?  We are happy to provide documentation of your service if you need it. Just let us know how we can help.

What if I have an emergency and can’t report to my shift?  We appreciate you keeping us informed of any changes in your schedule. Please send a text or call Nancy at 571-218-9903.

What happens if it’s bad weather?  We will make decisions on-the fly about bad weather. We don’t want a few sprinkles to keep us from opening the project, but we want to keep everyone safe and comfortable. If you’re unsure if we’ll be open, visit www.facebook.com/welivebig for updates or call/text Nancy at 571-218-9903.

Do you need more volunteers?  Yes! We can use 10 volunteers per shift and some shifts don't have enough people. Please share your experience with your friends and family and encourage them to sign up!

Thank you all for signing up to make UNITY a great experience for your community! This project can’t be done without your generous support and positive spirits. We are grateful for your time and energy! 

If you can't take a shift, but want to help, download this flier and post it in your office, a coffee shop, community center, place of worship, or wherever you think it will inspire people to become involved. Together, we can shift the national conversation.