“In friendship, wherein we elect each other by the free choice of the gift of our hearts, we find the glory of God manifest.”
— Paramahansa Yogananda
These days the number of devotees visiting the Yogananda Seva Volunteer Portal is steadily growing. The Yogananda Seva Onboarding Team welcomes new and current volunteers and introduces them to the mission, vision, and the spirit of selfless service — what we call “seva bhav” — of this new and evolving SRF/YSS volunteer community. Bringing awareness to the spirit of selfless service that underlies all our volunteer activities is the purpose of the initial onboarding meeting. Our goal is to support each volunteer’s inner experience of service to the Guru (guru-seva). Guru-seva is a deep and personal process. Each one of us has our own lessons to learn, our own hopes and abilities, and our own connection with our Guru. The Onboarding Team has found that exploring this with each volunteer can be meaningful and inspiring. We discuss with volunteers how to maintain balance, communicate and serve with others, find meaningful roles, and express the spirit of selfless service.
Forming the Onboarding Team
The Onboarding Team was formed in May of 2020. We were initially occupied with defining the team mission, the goals, and the processes needed to implement these. We were, however, in no hurry to get about the ‘doingness’ of onboarding. Instead, while weekly group meetings included planning and tasking, developing internal trust and respect within the team took priority. The deep joy and bonding we felt reflected that same divine spirit of service that the team hopes each volunteer experiences. The joy that comes from activities permeated with seva bhav is reflected in the testimonies of some of the Onboarding Team members:
“My experience of being with the onboarding team and serving Master is of a bond tied with a thread of love, respect, and learning.”— S.B.
“Serving and being part of the Onboarding Team is one of the best things that ever happened to me. The connection with our spiritual brothers and sisters is something beyond explicable. It has and is bringing me great joy, which I never knew I was capable of feeling.”— A.G.
“As more volunteers started joining the Onboarding Team, it never felt like we were meeting each other for the first time. The harmony with which everyone works and accommodates other’s views and opinions is very heartwarming. It is the ultimate example of a safe, accepting, and loving space.”— V.O.
“I truly felt welcomed and greeted when I attended my first team meeting and I feel that way with every team meeting.”— R.R.
The Onboarding Process
As expressed in the Autobiography of a Yogi, “true education is not pumped in from outward sources, but aides in bringing to the surface the infinite hoard of wisdom from within.” The Onboarding Team helps volunteers quickly feel part of this virtual volunteer family, answers their questions, and gets them involved. We ask questions about what inspires each volunteer to serve the Guru: “What brought you to participate in Yogananda Seva?” or, “How do you see volunteering contributing to your sadhana?” The Onboarding Team is trained to listen deeply to each volunteer and reflect upon the unique spirit of service that volunteer contributes to the Yogananda Seva community.
Onboarding The Help Desk Team
Usually onboarding is a one-on-one (or two-on-one) process. But recently we had the opportunity to work with the Help Desk Team. We shared the goals of onboarding and focused on the spirit behind service. After a brief introduction, the rest of the meeting was given to break-out rooms, where several Help Desk Team members were invited to share their experiences while volunteering. Our Onboarding Team members listened, acknowledged, and celebrated the blessings that the Help Desk Team feels while assisting devotees around the world who have technical and programmatic questions.
Erin Estrada, coordinator of the Help Desk team, shared the following after her team’s onboarding session:
“Going into the meeting, I expected to hear a lot of information with PowerPoint slides, etc. It wasn’t anything like that. Early on, we split up into breakout rooms, and many valuable things happened in that hour for our team. The questions they asked us, and the way they listened, brought out our thinking, and new ideas were generated. I got to know my own team members better and others said the same–so the process brought us closer. Also, I got to know myself better. I would say that team onboarding is a process of helping a team build confidence. We all want to make this a regular event.”— Erin Estrada, Help Desk team coordinator
It seems that Master has been directing the onboarding of Yogananda Seva volunteers by helping us focus on the true devotional purpose of service. The Onboarding Team is immeasurably grateful for the privilege of helping orient volunteers to Yogananda Seva and hearing the special ways they feel Guruji’s presence flowing through their service.