Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why I Volunteer

Leading into my youngest son's senior year of high school, I've done some reflecting on what volunteer footprint I'm leaving.

I can't speak for my friends that volunteer, but this is why I do.

  • I don't do it for my kids (sort of) - in all honestly, I don't think they care whether or not I volunteer.  Let me be clear though. They are what drove me to volunteering.  Had they not been in active in sports, I don't know that I would have walked that path.  
  • I do volunteer for my kids teams, teachers, coaches - it's to make their lives a little bit easier.  They can focus on what's important; prepping for games, teaching instead of spending hours grading math papers, and focusing on coaching kids into the best athletes they can be.
  • I don't do it to be recognized - if you are doing it for recognition, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.
  • I don't do it so my kids get special privileges at school - they can do that on their own by being good students and good citizens.
  • The volunteers I've worked with have become great friends.  Sure, we can bitch when it comes down to others that don't help, but our common bond at the end of the day is feeling pretty damn good at what was accomplished.
  • I don't just volunteer when it comes to my kids school or their sports.  I'm the first one to step up at work when something needs to get done.  I'm a firm believer in that we are all in this together, and sometimes you just need to dig in and help.
  • I've stopped worrying about others helping.  They have their reasons, which frankly are not my concern.  Everyone has their reasons why they do, or do not, want to help.  I can only hope that when there is a need, we will find the way to get everything done.
  • I let people that complain about what volunteers do or don't do roll off my back.  The only way to make a difference in what a volunteer does is by helping.  If you don't want to help, don't expect to get buy in from those that do.
  • I volunteer in hopes that my kids following in my footsteps.  I certainly don't take all the credit, because my husband is right beside me when it comes to volunteering.  He may grumble when I sign him up to help, but he loves it as much as I do, and has spent years along side me helping, and even more years coaching teams that our kids did not play on.
  • I'm selfish in that I put volunteering on my resume.  It makes me appear more employable.
  • I don't question how a volunteer coach interacts with my kids.  Keep in mind, if there is a need, I would step in.  But in hindsight, they are volunteers.  They aren't getting paid to spend time with your kids, and having parents breathe down their necks make their job that much harder.  With that being said, if I had to step in, it would be done after the game, one on one with the coach.  It is never acceptable to criticize a coaches interaction or decisions in front of other parents or players.
  • I welcome criticism when making volunteer decisions...but keep in mind, if you aren't offering a solution, I probably won't listen to you.
  • I volunteer because I feel damn good at the end of the day when I do it. They might be long hours when getting ready for a sports season, lots of hours when you are helping glue googly eyes on art projects in kindergarten classes, and even longer hours spent editing hundreds of photos for peoples enjoyment.  
  • I've taken my love of volunteering and turned into into enjoyment for others.  I love the look on peoples faces when they go through a game day program that I've designed, or when I get like after like on pictures I've taken game after game.  (Note, I know they aren't perfect, but I try...and I'm willing to stand for hours on end hoping to get that perfect shot that is forever captured digitally).

All-in-all, I volunteer because I love it.  It's bittersweet going into my youngest son's final football season of high school (with any luck, he'll be playing past high school). I apologize to everyone that knows me, the next four months I will be knee deep in trying to keep the tears at bay, all while encouraging others to help out when I finally hang up my volunteer hat for this high school experience.   All I ask, is that when you see me walking towards you, don't walk the other direction.  You will get far more in return from volunteering than in the effort you will ever put out.

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