The “Secret Sauce”

In 2017, 4,400 individuals spent 19,600 hours volunteering at my host site, Global Links. During that time, thousands of boxes of medical materials were packed, hundreds of crutches, canes, and wheelchairs were prepared for new owners, tons of scrubs were assessed and sorted, and countless laughs and smiles were shared by the volunteers at Global Links.

At my host site, we refer to our volunteers as the “secret sauce” of the organization. At Global Links we strive to provide our volunteers an experience that is rewarding, educational, and engaging, regardless of age or ability. It is also important for our volunteers to stay on task to ensure they are completing high-quality work. To meet both standards, our team has developed unique ways to ensure that all volunteers can contribute and make a real difference for others.

For example, volunteers from our community partners, Achieva and The Children’s Institute, that have disabilities can use counting aids, folding boards, adjustable tables, and other items to help make their tasks as easy and efficient as possible. We even have a quiet room with materials such as books, puzzles, playdough, and items for volunteers with sensory processing difficulties. For the individuals that sort through medical materials from hospitals and the community, we have padded floor mats for support during the two-hour ‘power sorting’ sessions. We also provide magnifying glasses and flashlights to help our volunteers ensure that even the tiniest expiration date doesn’t go unchecked. There is always an upbeat Spotify playlist that can be heard throughout the volunteer center to keep our volunteers motivated and, sometimes, dancing. Lastly, our coffee pots are always full of delicious, fair-trade Nicaraguan brew from our partner Building New Hope to fuel the entire process.

Global Links is a place where friendships and new connections are made across all ages, races, and abilities as volunteers come together to work towards a common goal. We’re very grateful to have our dedicated, diverse, and committed ‘secret sauce’ because we could not do what we do without them!  Working with the volunteers has been a rewarding experience and solidifies that this year of service has been beneficial to my professional growth.


This post was written by NPHC member Shelby Davis.

Shelby serves at Global Links as an Outreach Coordinator.