Monday, May 19, 2008

just a volunteer

Aside from the ninety gazillion things I do each day to keep our home running, and the people fed, and clean (well, you know, as clean as possible), I do some volunteer work. Some of you know I have served on the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County, NY--I have to say NY, because there's an HFH Genesee County in Michigan, too. I am on committees at church, and I also 'do' a newsletter for another local organization of which I will fail to mention its name.

I fail to mention the name for a few reasons:
  • This is not an innately bad organization (duh, or I wouldn't be volunteering my time with them)
  • I am reeeeaaaaallllyy unhappy, no I'm actually feeling seriously insulted, and the less I say, the better it will be. (so don't tell me I'm blogging about it and ruin my venting. Because I need to vent, and you know that's why you read me.)

There might be more reasons to my madness, but that's all I've got at the moment.

So I do a newsletter. I guess you could call me the editor, but I don't actually get much material to edit, so I have come up with about 80% of the material for the past two years, with the exception of the last two months when the employees of the organization gave me enough material to get the job done. And it's not a ginormous publication, just a four page Publisher document with cute fonts. Even so, it has taken me as little as 5 hours and up to 10 hours to complete each month's paper. And that adds up to a lot of hours out of my life that I will never get back.

But I volunteer. I enjoy being useful, and contributing to the greater good, and using my skills to help out. I do not volunteer to receive awards, I don't do it to be recognized, or so that people applaud me. I am not into that. Sure, I do appreciate being appreciated, but I am not looking for a bunch of feathers for my cap. I serve because my faith requires me to be a servant to others. And if you would like me to explain that further, let me know.

This month's newsletter was late. In fact, I thought I was not going to be able to complete it at all. I couldn't even start the thing because I lost the packet of information they had given me. I admitted it as soon as I realized it was really, truly lost. I apologized. I described the effort I had made to find the paper. (Are you wondering why they don't email me the information? Because I wonder that, too.) The Person In Charge said, Well, if you can't find it, it wasn't meant to be. Now I didn't take that to mean, Ah, whatever. Stop looking, we don't want the newsletter this month. I figured it as more of an, Oh well, we're disappointed, sorry to hear that, sort of thing. So I kept looking.

Last Thursday, I got a phone call from the Person In Charge, and the Person pretty much ripped me a new one about losing the information. And during the course of the tirade/patronizing suggestion offering/calling me irresponsible, the Person used the phrase just a volunteer.

And that, my friends, is where I signed off.

Here's a little advice for anyone who deals with volunteers as a part of their job:


Here is an equation you should employ: VOLUNTEER = DONOR.

I have donated hours and hours of my time and brain power, limited as both may be, which translates into thousands of dollars worth of time. Volunteer time is valued at $18 an hour. At least. I got that number in the summer of 2006 at the HFH National Leadership Conference, so I am sure it has inflated by now.

And do you ever have moments when little things catch your attention because you're torqued about something else? Little things that you'd really not care about under normal circumstances, but because you're pretty much pissed off, get under your skin like a sliver?

Yeah. Me too. Like this: The organization just celebrated its yearly Volunteer Recognition Week. There was a big poster, and a nice luncheon, and presents, I'm sure, because they're really big on gifts. Guess who was not invited to a nice grown-up lunch? Guess who got no recognition? And no presents? Yeah. That'd be me.

And like this: There was an event hosted by the organization, and scads of volunteers were mentioned. Ninety gazillion of their names were crammed on a half sheet of 8.5x11 inch paper, in 12 point font. Guess whose name was not there? Yeah. That'd be my name.

But I'm Just A Volunteer. Those other people must be Real, Live, Actual Volunteers Who Are Actually Important. So thank you, Organization in Which I Was Formerly Just A Volunteer.

I am taking my seriously underappreciated self somewheres else, people. If I am JUST anything, I'll be just my kids' mom, and just my husband's wife. Because if I'm going to be underappreciated, dammit, it's going to be in my own home, where I can at least make them sit in the corner. Because I am the Person In Charge over here.

So there.

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