Wednesday, November 04, 2009

When did volunteering become so difficult?

I thought I would try something new and do something nice by volunteering to a local group that I felt strongly about. Animal rescue, for instance. I filled out applications and joined 3...count them....3...different organizations. No word. I sent e-mails. One group responded demanding a minimum of 4 hours per week for a minimum of 6 months during the middle of the work day. Hello?! I work full-time!!! And the only positions they had available were manning the phones or database entry. Yuk! If I'm going to donate my time, I want to find the work rewarding. I wanted something more hands-on with the animals. Apparently, that group is totally saturated with volunteers.

Strike 1. Onto the next group. I missed the orientation meeting. However, I filled out reams and reams of paperwork, wrote carefully thought-out essays and applied. Nothing. I sent an e-mail. They don't need me for this term, turns out. They'll get back to me next year. Next year?!

Strike 2. The third group, I was most excited about. They seemed more laid-back and focused on transporting injured animals to rehab facilities. I joined, and checked out their very out-of-date website. I e-mailed. Nothing. I called. Nothing. I left messages. I finally called their emergency hotline and got the founder of the organization. Score! One would think. She proceeded to YELL, yes, yell at me that the work wasn't glamorous and I should go somewhere else. Then, she said she desperately needed volunteers. I kept repeating, "I just want to help. What can I do?" She accused me of "interrupting her" and that she "couldn't get a word in". Then she said, "It sounds like you're high on caffeine or something. I don't think we're a good fit. This isn't the group for you." Click. I was on the brink of tears. Strike 3.

Are you f*cking kidding me? How can I be turned down for volunteering from THREE different groups? Are there really that many volunteers out there? Screw that! I don't want to help unless I'm needed. I would think they would welcome me with open arms. At this point, I'm taking a hiatus. To be honest, I'm very busy and want to be careful about giving away my precious time. I am concentrating on finishing my postdoc and searching for a job, not to mention gearing up for another Ironman (and I have A LOT of work cut out for me to whip my ass back into shape after my hibernation). Finally, I want to carve out some time for myself...working on some of my memoir writing projects, watercolor painting, hiking with Travis, and horseback riding (I may actually end up volunteering for Pony Club, which I was involved in heavily as a girl; this would mesh my strange urge to volunteer with my love of horses and mentoring kids). I even have the urge to learn how to play the guitar! Needless to say, I have my hands full. I certainly don't need to waste my efforts on areas that aren't rewarding. Those guys can SUCK IT!


jeanne said...

that is so effed up!! I would have TOTALLY printed the names of those organizations, especially the one where the woman hung up on you. No wonder she's having trouble recruiting volunteers. UGH.

Nicole said...

WTF! Volunteering SHOULD NOT be like that!! You tried (bent over backwards), what else can you do?! I don't blame you! Concentrate on yourself right now! I agree with Jeanne about printing their names!

Southern Cernock said...

Wow, that's so discouraging. I do volunteer work for a crisis center and my experience was nothing like that. I just don't know what else to say. You would think organizations would never have "too many volunteers."

Caroline said...

I was also quite astonished as to how complicated it can be these days to volunteer. One place I had about 3 interviews and reference checks, and another took practically a year to hear back from. The strange thing is, when I had finally forgot about these applications, they all sort of rolled in at the same time and now I'm swamped.

Jack said...

What's up with these organizations, I mean it used to be that organizations survived only through the willingness of people like you to give up valuable time to help. In your situation I think I would have to raise a real stink and try to get them back on track.

Have fun getting back in Ironman shape!

Backpacker said...

They were trying to tell you something: They're idiots. I just send money to ACORN. They create the funniest headlines.