Volunteers need to be familiar with Microsoft Word and have the ability to attach a Word document into an email. Home visit reps must have social skills as they’ll be interacting with applicants.
The volunteer isn’t required to have a dog. If a home visit rep is conducting a home visit in person and the applicant doesn’t have a dog, then the home visit volunteer is welcome to take his/her dog to the visit provided it’s acceptable to the applicant.
Conducting a home visit itself takes about 1 ½ hours. After the home visit, the volunteer adds an additional hour to type responses into our home visit evaluation form Chris rotates assigning home visits among members of the team, so the overall commitment is typically a few hours every couple of months. It might be slightly more if we’re receiving numerous applications.
Chris emails a home visit volunteer a new applicant’s application and asks if he/she can conduct the home visit. If able to do so, the rep contacts the applicant and arranges a mutually convenient time and date for the process.
The home visit rep follows our evaluation form and notes the applicant’s answers. They ask to see the interior and exterior of the applicant’s home as we need to have a clear understanding of the areas where the dog will live. It’s important that the rep notes any concerns. After the home visit, the rep adds comments and feedback to the evaluation form and emails the completed form to the appropriate coordinators.
Currently there are approximately 90 members on the home visit team, yet to cover the entire state of Illinois, we can always use more volunteers. Chris provides interested volunteers with the necessary forms and gives them an overview of the process. A new person will observe home visits either in person or virtually with a trained volunteer. Once feeling ready, the new person runs the visit and is observed by the trainer. The number of home visits that a new person observes before going solo is entirely up to each volunteer as everyone’s comfort level is different. Chris tells the new home visit rep that it’s absolutely fine to not know all the answers. The volunteer simply needs to tell the applicant they will get back to them.