Friday, April 11, 2014

National Volunteer Week is every week at HMF!

Volunteers are truly at the heart of our events.  The spirit of camaraderie is contagious when people get involved simply for the enjoyment of helping others. We’d petition for National Volunteer Week to be yearlong to recognize volunteer efforts - considering in 2013 alone, 2,500 HMF volunteers dedicated 11,600 hours, we have much to be thankful for…not sure a week will do it justice!

To show our appreciation, all volunteers receive shirts and refreshments at every event. We also hope the volunteer incentive program, which provides earned credits off HMF events for registered volunteers, helps show our appreciation. 

You recognize some of the groups at annual events, our invaluable Collar Crew at the Hartford Marathon or Boy Scout Troop # 175 at the Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon and the West Hartford Exchange Club at the Blue Back Mitten Run.  It’s inspiring to get so many school groups to join with us too - East Lyme High School Lacrosse, Glastonbury High School, Capital Prep Magnet School and Montessori Parent Teacher Community at Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet have been incredible supporters through the years.  The invaluable massage therapists from the CT Sports Massage Team have taken care of countless runners. There are more individuals than we could possibly name, but we hope they each feel the gratitude and appreciation we have for them. 

Our volunteer program is led by Jess Hallet, who started as a volunteer with us about 10 years ago and has excelled in corralling all that incredible volunteer man-power!  You’ll see Jess at events signing in and directing volunteers, she’s also available to help groups coordinate community service initiatives or company volunteer programs.  Learn more about Jess in her own words below, and please remember to thank the volunteers you meet or pass on race day!

HMF Spotlight: Jess Hallet, Volunteer Program Manager

Role at HMF:

  • Recruiting Volunteers: Reaching out to local communities before each race to recruit individual volunteers, groups, teams, clubs, and organizations for HMF Events.
  • Managing Volunteers: Manage all online volunteer registration through a software system. Make sure there are enough volunteers for each aspect of every event.
  • Communication: Communicate all instructions to volunteers ahead of time in addition to instructions on race day.
  • Coordinate: Coordinate large volunteer groups for larger events.
Role on race day:
Set up and manage volunteer area/tent/food, manage volunteer check-in to ensure that volunteers receive the correct instructions for their volunteer activity and provide all volunteers with a volunteer shirt. My goal is to make volunteering with HMF a fun and easy activity to participate in to show volunteers how much we truly appreciate their help and support.

How long you've been with the Foundation:
I have volunteered with HMF for many years, maybe since 2003? I maintained a relationship with the HMF ever since. I began working as the Volunteer Program Manager in early August of 2013 - crazy time to start with the Hartford Marathon right around the corner, but I absolutely loved it!

Are you a runner?
Everyone always asks me that, just because I work for a  running organization doesn’t automatically mean I run…. I definitely don’t run, however, I do love to cheer runners on at the events!

Favorite HMF race you've worked and why:
Sandy Hook Run For The Families. It was an amazing event, truly inspirational. For such a small distance, it was so incredible to see how many people came out to run that day to support the families and people affected by Sandy Hook. The participants, volunteers, staff, sponsors, and spectators were so generous and supportive. This race was unlike any other and truly amazing to be a part of.

All-time best race experiences (participating and/or working):
Volunteering at the finish line of the Hartford Marathon. So much emotion and inspiration is generated by each participate that finishes. It is such a great accomplishment in life, the athletes are truly motivational.

Night before or race day prep ritual:
Sending out any last minute communications to volunteers, updating my volunteer sign in sheet, making sure the volunteer food order is placed and ready for the next morning, and making sure I have everything I need. Lack of sleep is probably the most consistent “night before race day ritual.”

Most challenging race day moments:
When there is a shortage of volunteers for a specific area. Thankfully we have an amazing crew that is able to react quickly and make it work for that day.    

Most inspiring race day moments:
Seeing the same volunteers at multiple HMF Events, who are always willing to help and contribute to their community. I feel so lucky to be able to interact with such great spirited and devoted individuals each and every day.

Oddest thing on your race day check list:
USE THE BATHROOM. I tend to forget in the midst of all the action.

What most people don’t know about to make an event successful:
VOLUNTEERS make our events happen. Our foundation is a volunteer-driven organization; we would not be here without the countless hours and dedication each volunteer contributes to the HMF events.

If money was no object, what would be your ideal vacation:
Australia or Africa!

Skiing, swimming, hiking, wakeboarding, dirt biking, and of course EATING!

Favorite post-workout snack:
A big juicy burger or basically anything filling and unhealthy.

All-time favorite food indulgence:
I love spicy, bold flavors and love trying new things.

What makes you get up in the morning:
The list of things I have to do for that day that continuously play in my head.

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