Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

A friend and I were talking the other day about volunteering. I’m moving out of the management of volunteering and focusing on the coordination of volunteers. It’s a scary thing, because the management will now fall under someone else who may or may not know the delicate balance there has to be in the management of volunteers.

The first and most important thing is that volunteers don’t want to hear about the day-to-day drama. They want to come in, do good, and go home. My sister had told me of a time where she went to her local animal shelter to walk dogs and refill water bowls only to be met by a staff who put the pressure on the volunteers of that day that if money wasn’t raised than 8 pitt bull puppies would be put to death that night. She practically was given the choice of standing outside a store in a strip mall with a donation can or to cough up cash then and there.The staff’s job was stressful, they wanted the volunteers to know what they go through every day.

It wasn’t what she signed up for, she didn’t want the drama, didn’t need the pressure, she was so turned off she left and didn’t look back. When we volunteer, we want to do good, we want it easy, we want to make a difference in a positive way and feel good about it and share our happy stories. We don’t want the drama. If you are on the inside of volunteer management, remember that volunteers are seeing a side that “normal” people don’t usually see. Just because the dirty laundry is there doesn’t mean you have to flaunt it.

As in any management position, transition is hard, for the former manager, the future manager and all of those who are being managed. I shielded and protected the volunteers from a lot of the day-to-day drama that they can over hear and see when they are in the trenches with us. I just hope it continues.

Volunteering in any environment should be fun and enjoyable and worthy, even if  “working” in the same environment isn’t.


{November 29, 2010}   Meals on Wheels

I’m sure it wasn’t just me that  dreaded the Monday after a long holiday. I thought of how I had planned my week and I was smart in keeping the appointments at bay. Lots of things need to be wrapped up at the end of the month, reports, stats, and all the housekeeping that goes with, so I began scheduling the first full week in December. That said, it still didn’t make me want to wake up with the roosters the Monday after Thanksgiving. Until I got a text from my friend, Sarah. “Want to deliver meals with me? Meet me at 10:40 at the hospital parking lot behind the ER”.  Sarah’s company is on a corporate route for Meals on Wheels and she delivers the 3rd and 5th Monday of the month. I shifted my day to a close and took advantage of a few extra zzzz’s.

We had 12 people on our route today. All extremely thankful and happy to see us. It’s a pretty large route,  spread out and about, and aside from an almost missed brown bag and a knocked over trash can it went along smoothly.  All in all it took about 2 hours from start to finish. I always mention that even a volunteer manager volunteers, and this type of volunteering is extremely rewarding and fun.

I met two of Sarah’s favorite people on her route. I’ve heard her stories of filling bird feeders in a business suit and pumps with one or coming in and seeing her elderly gentleman with his napkin, fork and knife laid out ready for her, but to actually meet them made it all the more special.

I was fresh off that feeling of making a difference and for some reason, it was easy to check voice mail today and return calls about volunteering!

et cetera
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