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Building Community Through Volunteerism: Meet Lauren, the Volunteer Coordinator Behind AINC’s Success

Lauren grew up in Colorado and studied chemistry at Florida State University. She worked as a pharmaceutical chemist for a while and interned in forensic chemistry for gunshot residue analysis with the Wyoming State Crime Lab, before realizing that a lab was the best fit for her. After, she had a variety of odd jobs, including teaching meditation (which she still does), working in travel and even owning her own traditional Thai massage business.

Eventually, Lauren decided to go back to “normal working for other people jobs,” and began working as a volunteer coordinator for an assisted living facility. When her husband’s work transferred him to Colorado, she decided it was time to move back and applied for a job as the volunteer coordinator at AINC.

Lauren’s primary job at AINC is interacting with the volunteers; she helps them with the various problems that come up when recording AINC’s programs, from navigating the software to logging into the publication. In addition, she communicates with the prospective volunteer as to whether they have passed their audition and gives feedback to the ones who didn’t. Then, she finds assignments for each volunteer based on their schedule and AINC’s needs.

 “Right now we have pretty high coverage of the program. So we have a list of people who are waiting for an assignment. So, that’s kind of a luxury: having enough people interested that you have a waitlist. I just communicate with them periodically and tell them I haven’t forgotten about them.”

AINC has 140 programs: they record various publications such as the Denver Post and the Boulder Daily Camera. It is Lauren’s job to manage the volunteers who record the publications. For example, she’ll have seven different volunteers read for a single daily publication, so the workload doesn’t overwhelm the volunteers.

The volunteers used to come into the studio in person, but now, they record at their homes and publish it to AINC’s portal. Lauren believes that the importance of volunteers extends past merely turning print to audio: they also add a human element that AINC’s listeners enjoy.

“What [listeners] get from our service isn’t just the information. A lot of our listeners are seniors and because, when you have any kind of significant change, it’s not uncommon to lose some of your friendships… people can start to feel really isolated. So hearing our volunteer voices really gives them a sense of connection to other people.”

Lauren also ensures that AINC’s programs cater to listeners. For example, AINC has three different regional feeds and a Spanish language feed. Now, Lauren is currently talking with officials from Montrose county because AINC has listeners in Montrose, but no programs specifically for that area. She hopes to coordinate an arrangement with the county in which they can curate and even read some local news, so listeners know what’s going on in their community. 

Lauren’s skills in working and coordinating with volunteers are invaluable for AINC. Lauren’s work allows volunteers to operate with efficiency to maximize their impact.

By Kaatje Vanderberg



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