Q: Do I have to speak Spanish to volunteer at El Sol?
A: No, you don’t have to speak Spanish to help the workers at El Sol. Here at El Sol, we encourage and teach the workers to learn English, and so English is predominantly spoken at the center. However, we do have particular positions for volunteers who do speak Spanish, either exclusively or as a second language.
Q: I’d like to volunteer, but I wonder about the legal status of the worker or my involvement with them. What’s the story on the worker’s legality to be in the U.S.?
A: Some volunteers are curious about how our programs work. Some of our workers have their “papers” and/or are documented, others are not. We do not ask the workers for their status. As to hiring them, it is no different than hiring a babysitter. So being a volunteer at El Sol is not engaging in any illegal practices.
Q: I’m learning to speak Spanish. Will I be able to try out my Spanish skills?
A: The workers are always delighted and grateful to meet an American who is trying to communicate with them in their native language. If you have an opportunity to interact with the workers, it would be to your mutual benefit to try to speak in each other’s language. It’s fun to speak to a worker in Spanish and have the worker respond in English. It gives you both an opportunity to learn.
Q: How many hours a week will I have to volunteer?
A: This all depends on your schedule, assignment and willingness to commit to certain tasks. As a volunteer, you are generously donating your precious time to El Sol and we appreciate that very much. Therefore, you can volunteer as little as 1-2 hours per week, or many more. It’s up to you!
Q: I am a retired professional. Can you use my legal/medical/business/art/scientific/teaching/chef/IT/ skills?
A: Yes! If you volunteer in a capacity commiserate with your professional skills, you are placed in a different category of volunteer for which El Sol receives special considerations as to in-kind donations. Please be sure and let us know if you are a retired professional willing to donate your professional skills to El Sol.
Q: What if I am only living here part of the year? Can I still volunteer?
A: Yes, we have many Snowbirds. Somehow, it always works itself out! When you leave, we still have our full-time residents to fill those positions. When you return, our full-time volunteers are grateful for the extra help or may be ready to take a vacation.
Q: Will I have direct contact with the workers?
A: There are some positions that will bring you in direct contact with our workers. Other positions have you in a tangential role. You decide your comfort level. If you feel you want more contact with the workers, you can simply change roles. If you decide you’d like less direct contact, you will be re-assigned. You are in the driver’s seat.
Q: What if I don’t like the assignment I am given?
A: Here at El Sol we have a variety of roles that need to be filled. There is something here for everyone and keeping our volunteers happy and fulfilled is our number one priority. El Sol runs on volunteer power, so volunteer satisfaction is important to us.
Q: Will I be trained for the assignment I am given?
A: Yes. Aside from the required orientation session where you will learn the history of El Sol, our mission, our programs and more, you will be placed with a veteran volunteer who will show you the ropes. You will also be included in our e-blast email list so you are kept in the loop and up to speed on everything that is going on at El Sol.
Q: What if I just wanted to volunteer for Thanksgiving and Christmas?
A: We appreciate the people who come for those busy times. However, if you are only a “one-time” volunteer, you miss out on so many of the benefits of being a regular volunteer. Here at El Sol, our volunteers, staff and workers develop a rapport that just cannot be replicated if you only come once or twice a year. We have volunteer appreciation luncheons, informal meetings and get-togethers over the year and develop a real bond.
Q: I work during the day. Are there night and/or weekend volunteer positions?
A: Yes. Night volunteers help out with ESOL, sewing and child care. Weekend volunteers help in the garden, the kitchen, the computer lab and the employer desk; any position that is available during the week is also available on the weekends.