By June Mathews
Hello, my name is June, and I’m a volunteer-aholic.
If you’re associated with a nonprofit organization and have envelopes that need stuffing, funds that need raising, meals that need serving, phones that need answering, toiletries that need collecting…you get the picture. I’m the kind of chump – um, person – you’d want to call for help.
But please don’t. I’m up to my eyeballs with volunteer projects already, and my inability to resist supporting a good cause keeps me in a tizzy. You see, like most writers without a book on the New York Times Best Seller list, I’m on a rather limited budget. So time and effort are often the only things I can afford to contribute without putting the monthly household allotments for food and shelter at risk.
But money or not, failing to do my societal share is not an option
. My personal philosophy dictates that everybody doing a little can get a lot done, and doing my little, I’m convinced, is essential.
So in keeping with that creed, I volunteer at church, the library and with the chamber of commerce. And if I start feeling the least bit useless, I begin casting around for somewhere else to volunteer.
I think I must have some kind of neurotic need to be needed, or maybe I’m simply a glutton for punishment. Whatever the case, I’m usually over-involved in way too many causes and often wonder exactly what it is that drives me to spread myself so thin.
But since I have no one to blame but myself, I have little room to complain. And whenever I do, my friend, Marti, reminds me about the time a few years ago when I resolved to kick the volunteer habit, one nonprofit organization at a time.
During a morning phone conversation, I told her that later that day, I’d be attending the monthly luncheon of an association I’d unintentionally gotten involved with (Yes, unintentionally. I honestly don’t mean to get myself into all these things).
Our exchange went something like this:
Me (with steely determination): I’m going to this meeting today to let everybody know I won’t be back. I’ve got too many irons in the fire, and I need to give some things up.
Marti (not convinced): Oh, really? Well, good luck with that.
Me: I’m not kidding. I’m going to do this. I’ve GOT to do this.
Marti (with an even greater amount of skepticism in her voice): OK then…
That afternoon, Marti called to follow up. Our second conversation went thusly:
Marti: Well, how did it go?
Me: OK, I guess. I’m the new membership chair.
Marti (beginning to snicker): Uh-huh…
Me: So I suppose I’ll not only remain a member for now, I’ll be trying to convince others to join this organization I don’t want to be a member of, much less a committee chair.
By that time, I’m feeling pretty stupid about the whole thing, and Marti is laughing so hard, she’s choking.
Oh, well, better volunteerism than other addictions I could be struggling with, I suppose. But somehow, someday, the madness must stop. I’m getting too old for this stuff.
But I’ll think about it later, when I’ve got more time. Right now, I’ve got a charity auction to organize, a press release to write for a Bible conference coming up this fall and minutes from last month’s library board meeting to format.
Yeah, I did it again. I over-volunteered. I knew better, but I couldn’t help it. Whenever the old neurosis kicks in, instead of putting on the brakes before I’m in too deep, I just roll with that initial impulse to get involved.
And if that seems crazy to you, well, you don’t know the half of it. Now each time I volunteer for something new, in my head I can hear Marti laughing.