When Emily Savage was asked last summer to chair the volunteer committee for the 2017 St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer in St. Louis, she considered it. After all, her parents had always donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital when she was a child. She had chaired the philanthropic committee as a student at the University of Missouri. And she and her husband, Stephen, donate food to local charity events through their restaurants, Wheelhouse and Start Bar.
Then she witnessed firsthand the passion and mission of the Walk/Run as a participant in the September 2016 Childhood Cancer Awareness Month event.
“I thought it was awesome,” Savage says. “Getting involved was something I was really excited about because I knew we could grow this if we had the help.”
That help would come from an army of volunteers recruited through networking and social media. Savage and her team have recruited 36 volunteers to head subcommittees for the 2017 event.
Once Savage makes a connection, she tells her story. Then she moves on to the hospital’s mission.
“I’m proud to be just a tiny part of that goal,” she says, “and I look for people who want to share in that with me.”
The key to success, she says, is to give volunteers ownership of their position.
“We’re trying to find people’s passions,” she explains. “One of the volunteers, Katie, is our logistics chair. She was an event planner, so we put her on logistics because it seeps into everything she’s always done. We brought her out to look at the location and talk about race starting and layout. She came the next day with an overview map and position settings. So filling in a strength we didn’t have—that is the best thing about finding volunteers who can really shine.”
Teamwork is a tenet at St. Jude. That same reliance on teamwork carries over into the volunteer community.
“The importance of the volunteers in our committee has been unreal,” Savage says. “With the growth we’ve had, you get all these new touchpoints in the community. Just getting the mission out has been amazing. It was incredible last year, but I knew there was much more we could do this year.”
From Promise, Summer 2017