Posts Tagged ‘volunteers’

I just wanted to give a quick thanks to all of my superb volunteers at the University of Tulsa and Professor Diane Potts’ class at Tulsa Community College. These undergraduates are helping us better serve our parents by interviewing them about their employment, educational, and financial situations. It’s a tough topic to discuss with people they’ve never met, and these students are doing a great job of it.

Also, they deserve thanks for showing¬† up even when I’ve sent them to the wrong site or when they don’t have a parent to interview. I’ve felt the frustration of being ready and willing to give time only to not find a place for it, so I know how committed they are to keep coming back.

Finally, thanks to the family support specialists, site directors, Innovation Lab staff, and everyone else that is helping get this project going.

I know we’re not through yet but it’s been a frustrating day and I want all to know how appreciated you are.

P.S.: I now have an endless amount of empathy for all the volunteer coordinators I’ve worked with in my day – at Tulsa Habitat for Humanity, the Tulsa Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, and with our own Jennifer Morgan at CAP. You guys (gals, actually) do an awesome job.


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A couple weeks ago I shared my ambivalence toward the fact that the “unemployed [are] busying themselves with voluntarism.” For expressing cynicism toward those giving their hearts and times to good causes, I recently received my just desserts.

At a recent Red Cross training I met a young woman who, like me, volunteers for what we call (awesomely) the Disaster Action Team. Young people who volunteer on DAT are a rarity – our team consists mostly of retired folks who have a lot of time to give and have a bit of an excitement deficit – so we chatted about why we volunteer.

It turns out that this woman, like some of our retired friends, has a bit of time to give – she was laid off not too long ago. So she’s volunteering for the Red Cross and other organizations. As we chatted outside,¬† I noticed she had two nametags on, one for the Red Cross and the other bearing CAP’s logo. It turns out she’s also volunteering for us. (I won’t say where since I didn’t ask her permission to tell this story and I don’t want to identify her.)

It was clear to me in our conversation that voluntarism was an important consolotation for her from the pain of losing her job. In volunteering she not only finds an opportunity for new experiences and relief from boredom, but a chance to give to others with one asset that she finds currently abundant – her time. I didn’t tell her about the article I’d read or the blog post I’d written or how I felt about it. I just listened.

I’m glad to have been reminded that in this economic crisis we’re all in it together, that we should all give with what we have, and that we should be grateful for every unexpected gift – both the unemployed volunteers and the unanticipated lessons – we receive along the way.

Thanks to all of you for all you give.

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I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this article in the New York Times. Apparently newly unemployed white collar workers are beating down the doors of NYC-area nonprofits in search of volunteer opportunities. A volunteer matching website called volunteernyc.org has seen its searches increase by 30 percent over the prior year. Many of these new volunteers admit either to being bored or hoping their service will lead to a paid position down the road, while the article speculates the influx may be in part due to President Obama’s praise of the spirit of voluntarism. It seems clear that the volunteers are not, however, inspired by any sort of feel-good camaraderie they feel for others struggling through the economic crisis.

In fact, I suspect the waves of newly minted public servants are driven neither by public-mindedness, the president’s pronouncements, sheer boredom, nor even the promise of future employment. (more…)

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