ChangeMakers Podcast: Dr. Sarah Petschonek Founder & CEO, Volunteer Odyssey – Creating New Pathways for Corporate Engagement & Meaningful Volunteer Experiences

Episode Summary

Host Jeremy C. Park catches up with Dr. Sarah Petschonek, Founder and CEO of Volunteer Odyssey, who was one of the original ChangeMakers podcast interviews (episode 5) back in 2016. During the interview, Sarah shares how Volunteer Odyssey has grown over the last seven years to work with more than 28,000 volunteers who have given over 460,000 hours of service just to the Memphis community. Volunteer Odyssey is a nonprofit organization that serves as a volunteer center based in and built for Memphis and a one-stop shop for meaningful volunteer opportunities.

Episode Notes

Sarah discusses some of the current challenges nonprofits face with a critical shortage of volunteers and how Volunteer Odyssey is working with cityCURRENT to engage companies in meaningful ongoing volunteer opportunities through their new Corporate Compass model and program. She talks about why taking a new approach is necessary but how it can create a win-win-win for companies, employees and the community.

Sarah also talks about how Volunteer Odyssey is positioning itself for a sustainable future through a strategic partnership with cityCURRENT and Higginbotham, which will allow the nonprofit to create operational, promotional and relational efficiencies.

Sarah talks in-depth about her recent experiences volunteering in Poland to assist those impacted by the war in Ukraine, and how it is is reshaping her perspectives personally, professionally and spiritually.

She talks about some of the conflicts noticed around efficiency and dignity, and the delicate art of doing good without doing unintentional harm to those being served. She shares a number of tips and recommendations for creating meaningful experiences and also for ways individuals and businesses can be more intentional with their volunteer efforts and impact.

Learn more about Volunteer Odyssey by visiting or emailing Sarah at

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