Warehouse Wonders: Volunteerism at Einstein
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
The Einstein Project is in the community every day, with butterfly masterpieces, partnerships with local businesses, our STEM Network, science and engineering kits for students, and more! But all of this work starts somewhere. Here’s a look into what goes on inside the doors of The Einstein Project’s warehouse. I spoke to The Einstein Project’s Kristi Franz, the woman behind the whole operation. She gave me some insight on how the process turns an empty box into a kit chock-full of science and STEM goodness!
First off, we love volunteers. As the heart of the process, volunteers are the most valuable resource for non-profit organizations, and The Einstein Project is no exception. While volunteerism is great for people from any age and lifestyle, Kristi mentioned that The Einstein Project saw mostly seniors, retirees, students, and volunteer teams from local businesses. Kristi highlighted one group in particular for their lasting partnership and dedication to assisting The Einstein Project-- individuals from the Curative Connections Rehabilitative Care Program!
When I asked about the benefits of a volunteer-focused unit assembly system, Kristi clarified that The Einstein Project is actually home to a unique system that allows volunteers to help with “product” assembly (cleaning, counting, inspecting, you name it!), while The Einstein Project’s trained staff members specialize in the “unit” assembly as a whole. Support from volunteers brings great value to the organization, and as Kristi puts it,
“The work [volunteers] do for us allows our production team more time to focus on every other aspect of their roles, which not only include producing and maintaining high quality science and engineering units, but also leading our inventory processes, shipping & receiving, volunteer coordination and building maintenance. We simply couldn’t devote the necessary time to each area without our volunteers. They allow us to do our jobs better.”
Aside from easing the workload, volunteers bring great energy and a highly positive dynamic to The Einstein Project team. Each individual that helps out at The Einstein Project is generous, engaged, and committed to our mission—to elevate STEM education in our schools.
As working alongside volunteers can create different challenges and obstacles than working with a staff, The Einstein Project has learned some tricks over the years for making sure volunteers work efficiently and acurrately, all while having fun! The key, as Kristi noted, is to learn about each volunteer’s strenghs, and to match the right job with the individual best suited for it. Ongoing, clear training and concise instructions will ensure that volunteers can work confidently on tasks assigned to them. The Einstein Project always strives to create a welcoming, friendly environment where volunteers feel comfortable reaching out with questions and sharing suggestions. One goal in the warehouse is that once trained on a project, volunteers should be able complete their job with little supervision. Kristi mentions that developing great relationships with volunteers helps to promote high retention rates, and having experienced volunteers continues to help with the team spirit.
Regardless of your schedule, your abilities, your experience, or your past knowledge of The Einstein Project and our mission, our doors are always open for you to come in and volunteer with us. See the Our Team Page to read a brief introduction of our warehouse staff and contact us today!
Warehouse Fun Facts:
- The Einstein Project's longest volunteer - a retiree has been helping us for well over 20 years!
- Lots of gravel is utilized in our science units. Last year alone, over 13 tons were transported from our warehouse to our customers!
- Our Catastrophic Events unit has the largest number of totes per individiaul unit. 10 totes are shipped to schools when this unit is leased.
- There are 150 different items in a typical middle school unit and 60 to 70 different items in a majority of our elementry school units.
- The Einstein Project has 1,600+ unique inventory items specific to the materials that are provided in our units.