Guest Blog by Lewis F., Cole S., Jack R., Sam L., and Jackson C.
Minnetonka High School students
Over the past few months, Minnetonka High School Vantage students have partnered with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity's ReStores to research and develop new ways to attract college volunteers to help out at the stores.
Minnetonka Vantage is an advanced professional studies program developed through Minnetonka Public Schools, that provides students with an opportunity to work hand-on with local businesses to provide solutions for a certain challenge. This is the fourth project partnership between the school and the ReStore since they began their partnership in 2015. With the opening of a second store in Minneapolis this past fall, Twin Cities ReStore needed to come up with new ways to garner volunteer support to keep the store operating and honed in specifically on awareness of local college student to assist the ReStore.
ReStores are donation-based, and generally have only a small number of staff members at any given store. It takes many hands to receive, sort, price, and place donated product on the sales floor and assist customers with their purchases, and that's where the power of volunteers comes into play. Many volunteers are mission-driven, and help out half-days at the ReStores in New Brighton and Minneapolis stores, with the knowledge that revenue from the stores sales flow directly to the Habitat for Humanity mission in the local community.
As part of their research and strategy project, the students explored different approaches for volunteer recruitment, utilizing social media, different communication techniques, and highlighting the variety of service days. The students conducted their primary research through surveys and interviews. And on a Saturday morning in December, some of the Vantage students experienced the role of a ReStore volunteer firsthand.
During the morning volunteer shift at the Minneapolis store, the students all reported how easy it was and how it was not time consuming at all. One of the students, Lewis, is a junior in Vantage, and mentioned “volunteering at ReStore was feasible with my busy schedule. We also had the ability to smash tile and break things, which surprisingly was very fun”.
Another thing Lewis told us was how interesting it was to see all of the things that ReStore has to offer:
“I really enjoyed helping price and move many of the items to the front of the store. There are so many things to be purchased and organizing them on the sales floor can be a challenge”.
Lewis volunteered with two other students Jackson, a junior, and Jack, a senior. We asked Jack how this experience will guide him to picking his next service day in college.
“I think after volunteering here, I'll highly consider something like it next year”.
Jack also told us that he will encourage any of his friends seeking out a fun volunteering experience to check out the ReStores.
All three students felt this was a very fun and great experience, and that they will recommend it to their friends and come back. We asked Jackson to tell us about the partnership between ReStore and Vantage and how it benefited him:
“I am so happy that Vantage introduced me to Mr. O’Keefe and ReStore. I am excited to see the growing partnership with ReStore as the years go on."
After their completing their volunteer opportunity, the students gave their experience a very high rating and recommend everyone to volunteer at ReStore in the coming year.
The students have completed their research project and gave a presentation to Habitat staff on December 21, 2016. Pete O'Keefe, ReStore Sr. Operations Manager, was thrilled with the work done by the students, and hopes to have the opportunity to work with the Vantage program again in the future.