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Volunteers Everywhere!

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KATRINA VOLUNTEER
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In your community, as many others, everywhere you turn there are volunteers.

Whether it be at the community association or town, in one of the many schools and sports organizations, there are armies of volunteers. Yet when I attend a meeting, or read a community newsletter the phrase "It's always the same people volunteering" strikes at almost every turn. So lets have some thoughtful analysis on why we as volunteers seem to feel as though we are unappreciated and no one wants to help us.

In reality there are hundreds of people who make up the fabric of this community and contribute in a positive way. If you are a parent, think about your child's school.There is the parent council, the school play, the fundraisers, both organizing and selling, and all the classroom and special day volunteer parents. They do everything from input the thoughts of the parents to the administration to hand out hot chocolate to the kids at a winter carnival. They sell cookie dough and make sure our kids are safe on field trips and feed them at the fun lunch. And that is just at the school.

Then there's the community association, where there are several groups within the main body. Including the board itself, in my community there's a pre school, cubs and boys scouts, sparks and girls guides, 50 plus club and entertainment events like a kids' Christmas party. Then we have a traffic committee, Air traffic noise committee, block watch, bingo chair, casino chair, publicity (getting out in the cold to change the signs), maintenance of the community hall, making and maintaining of the outdoor ice rink, a newsletter editor and all of it's contributors. Each of these groups has an army of volunteers all it's own, that may not attend meetings or get their picture taken for the newsletter.

Then the minor sports organizations, from soccer, baseball, basketball and Lacrosse, to gymnastics, baton and all of the martial arts, board members, coaches, managers and fundraisers make all these things go. Tournament organizers, field Marshall's, medal presenters, and the list goes on and on. This is just within each community. How about the city as a whole, from homeless shelters and other charity organizations, high school, college and university sports, the list goes on and on. Yet I hear time and time again, no one wants to volunteer. Sometimes from my own mouth! Frustration and impatience can be contagious! So can patience and determination be.

So back to the question, why do we as volunteers seem to feel as though we are unappreciated and no one wants to help us? Communication, plain and simple.

Technology has made it so much easier for us to communicate with one another, yet the problem of communication is still the number one barrier between a successful and near death volunteer organization.

All volunteer-oriented associations would tell you that volunteers are the number-one issue year after year, yet many of these same organizations don't even have a volunteer coordinator to help develop and communicate with it's volunteers. So where do we go from here?

The organization itself must put forth more effort to communicate to those who don't attend the meetings, first recruiting an effective volunteer coordinator and then communicating the needs of the organization with that person who can then get the word out to the group.

As a volunteer, you also have a responsibility to communicate. If you can't make it out to the meetings, send an e mail or call a person on the board, hopefully a volunteer coordinator, and let them know what you can offer. Many articles, e mails and calls go unanswered as people have no idea of the requirements of the position, so rather than ask, they just don't respond. On and on goes the viscous circle.

Last but far from least, if you are a volunteer who feels unappreciated, pat another volunteer on the back and tell them they are doing a great job and how important they are to the success of the organization. If you get a pat on the back, "pay it forward" and you will get it back again and again.

Now lets get out there and make it happen!