Friday, April 1, 2011

Serious Doubts About Volunteering.....

Friday, April 1, 2011......

Wednesday night I went to the 2011 kickoff meeting for my park's annual plant sale. This is the 3rd year I've been on the committee and the 3rd year the park has had it's sale.

The first year was a wonderful success, but last year, the dynamics changed. The chair people weren't strong enough to hold their own to the President of the park group (who claimed she didn't want to be in charge of anything on the plant sale committee, but got into everyone's business.

Needless to say, the President of the park group micro-managed everyone and this didn't sit well with me. She was quick to point out others' flaws, but didn't take ownership for hers.

A year passed and I really wanted to help, but in the light of day after the meeting I think I may bow out because of PERCEPTION.

Let me back up....I volunteer for the good of the cause. I focus on the event and cause, and do it to the best of my ability. When I was in my late 20's I did some heavy duty volunteering that involved boards with influential people in business. The more I got involved, the more I noticed the President of that board was useless and her reason for being on the board was to have another board member nominate her and her husband to the membership committee of a local country club. Oh. My. God. Other issues pursued, but it made it incredibly difficult to work with a woman who really didn't understand the real reason she should be volunteering.

Flash forward to 2009....I sign up to volunteer for the park's 1st plant sale. The President of the park (it's a 'friends of X park' group) wasn't really involved, the chair people were likable, delegated well and trusted their volunteers to come through. Sure, there were some issues because life got in the way for some volunteers, but it happens. However, even with the issues, the plant sale was a hit.

I survived year one and realized these people had their hearts in the right place and volunteered for the 2nd one. This time I signed up for more responsibilities. Unfortunately, the President who removed herself from year one because she didn't want to have her name tied to the event, until the end (when she saw we were successful), decided to take hold of the 2nd annual sale, BUT, she didn't want to be a chairperson.

As I worked with this group for year 2, I began pulling away more and more. The unnecessary bullshit and aggravation were too much. I swore at the end I wouldn't do more than the day prior and day of for 2011.

Wednesday night comes, I receive an email from another member telling me she couldn't come to the meeting and probably didn't have the time to give for this year's sale. I go to the meeting and tell the host (the President of the park committee) this and she sounds put off because the woman emailed me and not her. It becomes apparent that she was put off as she later asks me again why this woman emailed me and not her with this news. She was shocked when I told her that we've exchanged emails throughout the years. I consider this woman a nice person and we've chatted about other things having nothing to do with this plant sale. Is she my bestie - no, but would I have coffee with her - yes.

After a 3rd time of the President questioning why this woman emailed me (I think she finally believed that the woman emailed me and told me she wasn't coming because we were an hour into the meeting and she wasn't there).

However, this is not what has pushed me over the edge. What has pushed me over the edge is that the President (once again not wanting to be the chairperson, but acting like it) feels as though we may fail because we don't have enough volunteers. She may be true, but when discussed about not doing the sale this year, but picking it up again for next year; her response was priceless. She actually said: "What will people think?" Think about what? For god sakes, plants are always needed. Who cares what people think from other towns. Isn't it more important to focus on an event? We're not a huge park, and it is one of those things that people happen upon. It's a nice thing to come upon, but it isn't the Oscars or Golden globe Awards.

In my mind, people who care far too much about perception often forget the real reason they are volunteering. The event at hand is lost and, for me, the event at hand is what is important when it comes to volunteering.


Brian Miller said...

here, here...thinking i might be finding a newplace to volunteer....

donnamarie said...

I tried the volunteer thing when my kids were in Elementary school. Cured me of that kind of volunteering. The leader was much like the one you mentioned that didn't want to do all the work, but ended up doing it all herself anyhow!

DB said...

And the irony of all this is that the President hasn't figured out that the reason there aren't that many volunteers is because of what a pain in the arse he/she is. What a knucklehead.

Little Ms Blogger said...

DB - After much soul searching, I told the President I would be available to post on all the online calendars, but unavailable for anything else. It was starting to remind me of Muffy (that was her real name)and her crew all over again.