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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Volunteerism - Is it just me?

As I go through this craziness otherwise known as Suburbia, the idea that volunteering ones time is a pretty typical request.  Everyone is asking for volunteers...schools, sports, Girl Sc.outs, Bo.y Scout.s, clubs, fund raisers...everyone.

So, Husband and I try to do our best.  With both of us working, taking care of two young children, and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, time is at a premium.  We discuss, plan in advance, and really try to make it work.  At this point, he works full time, works out almost daily (to ward off the heart disease that runs in his family), coaches soccer, basketball, and now girls' lacrosse.  Oh, and assistant coaching boys' lacrosse.  I work in the community as a teacher (so we all know that I am forced to bring work home on an almost daily basis), tutor one night a week for 4-5 hours, take an online course every now and then (that try to kill me slowly), and have often offered to volunteer for the Crazies' activities.  We both keep the house clean, do laundry, fix things around the house, and run the Crazies all over the place for various parties, activities, and special dates.  Oh, we also try to have friends...couple friends and individual.  Oh, we also try to see our families and they're not local.  Not to play the "poor me" card or the "look at how great I am" card, but we are busy people and we like it this way (most of the time).

Recently an email came out from our HOA asking for people to step up and be on the board.  I inquired to see what kind of time requirement it would entail (because I really don't want the HOA to go to the state) and I declined because between all this stuff we're already doing, we actually enjoy spending time together.  The time commitment wasn't that crazy, but it was just one more thing and I really don't think we can do one more thing at this point.  I think I needed to say no...and I did.

The woman completely understood and was very gracious.  I started thinking though.  Where are the people who don't work?  Where are the people who aren't as busy?  Where are the people who actually have the time?  I know they're out there, but what do they do?  Do they just not want to step up?  Are they tired?  Are they sick?  Do they just want to avoid the drama?  I totally get that, but what happens to the people who keep stepping up while everyone else steps back?  Those people are either going to get burned out or they're going to stop volunteering altogether.

Example, the team parent for Husband's just decided that her kid wasn't going to play.  She ignored Husband's emails and finally got back to him and explained what happened.  Fine...whatever.  Things change.  We get that.  He put an email out asking for someone else to step up as team parent (i.e. set up a snack schedule and set up the end of season party) and no one has.  I get that people are busy.  I get that people have multiple children at multiple ages.  I get all of that, but I have stuff too.  

Another example, the lacrosse people sent out an email that they needed girls' coaches for the kindergarten age group.  Husband hasn't played a day of lacrosse in his life, but loves coaching.  He stepped up and was fine with having to take the time to learn the game, understand the fundamentals, and develop plays.  Once he sent out his introduction email, he had a parent email him back offering her help.  She played in high school and loves the game, etc., etc., etc.  He's all like "I appreciate her offering to help out and I'm definitely going to take her up on it, but where was she when they needed coaches?"  

So, what is it?  Are there people who just tend to volunteer and people who don't?  Are people shy?  Are people content to let everyone else do the work?  Do people just not want to make the commitment?  Have they had some sort of drama that makes them shy away from this sort of thing?  What is it???  Enlighten me!

6 comments:

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Okay sweetie, you REALLY need to change that header :) I can't believe your kids were once that small.

Oh, about the volunteering. I think people sit back til someone who feels most guilty steps up. The lady sounds like she's not confident enough in her coaching ability to do a good job that's why she's happy to "help" but not to take charge. Or maybe she just doesn't like to be in the limelight.

PS the way some parents act at kiddies' sports would make me think twice before volunteering too. However, I'm 150% happy to set up a snack schedule and organise a party :)

Amy said...

There are doers (you & hubby) and there are complainers.

At some point in the future, the kids will figure out on which activities they want to focus. It will become easier at that point.

Team sports require many volunteers. Single sports like tennis & golf do not.

I''m glad you said, "No".

Hillary said...

I think a lot of the time that people get used to/spoiled by other people saying yes so they're off the hook. I'm a "yes" person and I stretch myself WAY too thin; I finally reached the point this year where I started saying no because I was sick of being the only one volunteering to do stuff!

Mr. Thompson and Me said...

As someone who manages volunteers for a major non-profit I would say... Yes! There are people who volunteer and there are people who don't. Givers and takers. Simple as that.

Volunteerism is also changing in America due to competitions on everyone's time (especially retired folk and stay at home moms). Try event based volunteerism. Instead of for the entire season...find a volunteer partner for one game. Those are the jobs most people are taking on.

WicketsMom said...

It seems that in all of my child's activities, we have the same group of parents that are volunteering to help. In addition to working full time, I am my son's room mom, baseball team mom, and assist with the kids' races at our motorcycle events. I also run our neighborhod HOA Facebook page, and my husband and I are working very hard to try and get some input for our HOA (ours is still controlled by the developer, and he runs it as a dictatorship with NO input from homeowners and questionable financial accounting). Add to that we raised a litter of nine Labrador puppies and there are not enough hours in the day!

Some days I just want to scream "Enough!" but the thing is I care about the quality of these activities so I will probably continue to volunteer. My son appreciates what I do, and in many cases people volunteer to assist after someone else has taken the lead so we do get help sometimes.

WicketsMom said...

It seems that in all of my child's activities, we have the same group of parents that are volunteering to help. In addition to working full time, I am my son's room mom, baseball team mom, and assist with the kids' races at our motorcycle events. I also run our neighborhod HOA Facebook page, and my husband and I are working very hard to try and get some input for our HOA (ours is still controlled by the developer, and he runs it as a dictatorship with NO input from homeowners and questionable financial accounting). Add to that we raised a litter of nine Labrador puppies and there are not enough hours in the day!

Some days I just want to scream "Enough!" but the thing is I care about the quality of these activities so I will probably continue to volunteer. My son appreciates what I do, and in many cases people volunteer to assist after someone else has taken the lead so we do get help sometimes.