“These are volunteers!
Can’t make them stay.
Can’t make them go.
Can’t offer them a raise.”
From Keeping Your Volunteers presentation – Chesapeake Fire Department;
Yes, after a pretty healthy hiatus of 2 weeks, 3 days, and about 45 seconds, I’ve gone and volunteered again. Unfortunately, instead of the avalanche of gratitude I was hoping for, I found myself on the receiving end of some territorial posturing, abrupt order-giving, and irritated “that’s not our job” kind of responses.
The way I look at it, volunteers should be respectful of an organization’s ideals, interested in its success, and invested in its future. I am that way, almost to a fault; I am loyal, cheerful, not very demanding, and, most importantly, I show up. I may not do my jobs perfectly, but I try hard. I won’t do just any job (I do draw the line at folding papers—when I was a kid, my Mom typed the bulletin every week for church and guess who was her little helper?), but I’ll bake cookies, write copy, sell tickets, take minutes, crank out thank you cards, and speak to crowds of people without a moment’s hesitation.
For me, though, volunteer gigs can only work when an organization who needs volunteer help is eager to utilize my talents (not just eager for another warm body), open to my helpfully offered ideas (not just open to the guy that says exactly what I just said but moved his hand like this when he said it), and welcoming to happy, hard-working newcomers like me (not so busy kibitzing with all of the old-timers that they wouldn’t even notice if I peeled off all my clothes right then and there and started singing, “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right out of my Hair” on top of the conference table—just think, in an organization like that, you too can play the role of the Invisible Man. Sign up today!).
I guess I’m still getting my feet wet with this new group, so I’ll give the kinks a little more time to work themselves out. A couple of quirky people does not an entire organization make, right? Too bad that as I thaw out from the chilling effect of the not-so friendly attitudes to date, I’m not so willing to get much done.
Guess who’s missing out?