29 May Nuts & Bolts: A Day in the Life of a Staffer
The Nuts & Bolts blog series provides insights into how Group Leaders can prepare for service with ASP. This post comes from Jamie Tews, a former ASP Summer Staffer and ASP’s Advancement Storytelling Intern.
ASP wouldn’t be ASP without our passionate, tireless staffers. This post outlines a typical day for our staff.
Four alarms break the silence of a dark room. The earliest alarm goes off around six and sends a staffer to the hardware store. The second one sends a staffer to wake up the volunteers and start the routine of a devotion, announcements, and breakfast. The third, which comes shortly after the second, sends a staffer to help with wake-up, the supply room, and check-out. The last alarm comes an hour or so after the third to either wake the staffer from a sleep-in morning or send them on a day off.
While some members of the work crew are making sandwiches and filling water coolers, the rest of the crew is using their binder to fill their van with any materials they will need for the day. Volunteers walk around the supply room to gather fasteners, hand tools, and power tools. When staffers return with the hardware van, they hand out more supplies, like lumber or paint, for volunteers to take to the work site. As volunteers get ready to leave, they check-out with a staffer to make sure they are leaving with everything listed on their binder.
When the last volunteer van leaves the parking lot, all four staffers gather in the staff office, usually with mugs of coffee and remnants of breakfast, to plan site visits for the day. After figuring out which homes need deliveries, the staffers split up, usually two in the pick-up truck and two in the van and leave the center for the day.
At the homes, the staffers check in with the work crew and visit with the family. If the day is running especially smooth, staffers may spend extra time on the worksite to hang out with homeowners and volunteers after they have answered all the questions.
An ASP lunch typically consists of a peanut butter and jelly or lunch meat sandwich and a piece of fruit. Volunteers often bring other supplemental snacks, like cookies or chips, and they should always bring an extra sandwich or two for their family. Lunch is a great time for volunteers to get to know their families, staffers, and other members of their work crew.
With a lunchbreak at either a work site or a local restaurant, staffers usually finish visiting all the homes around two o’clock. When they return to the center, everyone tends to do their own thing. Sometimes they will have to process volunteer paperwork, clean a vehicle, tidy the supply room, or receive a delivery from the food service company. Sometimes, if all the work for the day is done, staffers can take a nap, go for a run, or do whatever they need to do to re-energize before the evening activities.
The staffers gather in the staff office again around four o’clock to meet with group leaders, collect their binders, and start planning supply lists for the next day. After shuffling through group leaders and different projects, the smell of dinner lures staffers and volunteers to the cafeteria.
After everyone has showered and group leaders have met with their staffer, everyone gathers in the cafeteria again for dinner. So much has happened in the time between breakfast and dinner – post holes have been dug, siding has been hung, and stories have been shared, so use dinner as a time to talk to the people around you and hear about their experiences from the day.
When dinner ends, staffers prepare for evening gathering, which, depending on the day, could look like grabbing materials for a simulation activity or leading a caravan to a cultural outing. After evening gathering, staffers meet with any remaining group leaders.
Many volunteers spend the hottest part of the afternoon dreaming about the ice cream they will eat that evening. Every county has an ice cream spot. Some have local places with unique flavors, some have a Dairy Queen, and some have spots that only serve shaved ice. Regardless of the place, a cold dessert after a long day in the sun tastes amazing and creates camaraderie within work crews.
If they have time, the staff might join volunteers for ice cream or a game of cards, but they usually try to start a staff meeting around nine o’clock.
Staff meetings are the final part of a staffer’s day. After sharing happy, crappy, and awkward moments, each staffer explains to the rest what happened at their homes during the day. Explanations are usually accompanied by diagrams, questions, and the construction manual, but the staffers rely on each other, and any visitors, to create a plan that is best for the family and the volunteers.
Staffers try to have efficient meetings so they can get some rest, but the meetings usually end between eleven and twelve o’clock. Sometimes the meetings have lots of questions or tangents and go past twelve, but staffers try to keep those nights to a minimum. After the meeting, some staffs prepare supply squares for the volunteers to pick-up in the morning, but otherwise, everyone goes to bed to get some rest and do it all again in the morning
Jamie Tews is the Advancement Storytelling Intern this summer writing a weekly blog series titled “This Must Be The Place.” Prior to this summer, she was on staff in Breathitt County, Kentucky in 2016, Leslie County, Kentucky in 2017, and roamed around Appalachia as a staff liaison in 2018. She just graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Writing, and she has plans to pursue an MFA in creative writing.