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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Treat Them Right

I have, over many years, been a volunteer at a number of non-profit organizations. 

I also stopped volunteering at several of those organizations because of the way I and other volunteers were treated. A few examples:

  • A local rescue group put out a call for a photographer to photograph three dozen incoming dogs. I volunteered, my offer to help was accepted, I drove to the shelter, and I photographed each small dog. I e-mailed the photos within a couple of hours. No one at the organization could be bothered to even acknowledge receiving the images. Guess what? I haven't volunteered there again.
  • After volunteering every week for two years, I and two other volunteers stopped giving our time at a food pantry when we were 'replaced' at our jobs by community service workers working off court-imposed volunteer hours. I guess it didn't matter to the operations manager who assigned them that those court referrals would never be seen again after they had worked the required number of hours, or that the four of us who worked the Wednesday shift were quick and efficient because we knew from experience how the tasks were to be done.
  • At the same food pantry, the volunteer coordinator never bothered to introduce himself to the volunteers (he was hired after we had been volunteering there for more than a year) despite frequently being in the kitchen where we labored. The business manager would routinely pass us in a narrow hallway and never acknowledge our presence. We didn't feel valued or respected. If management didn't care whether we were there or not, why should we?
  • After being told to 'get out of the way' by a volunteer at another food pantry where I was learning the ropes (and apparently not learning fast enough), I never returned.
  • I did some volunteer photography work for another organization. I never felt welcomed, and I was left to handle tasks that I was not prepared to handle when all the other volunteers disappeared. And when I e-mailed the photos within a couple of hours after I got home, again no one took a few seconds to let me know the images had been received.
Despite being retired, I lead a busy life. I have three dogs, a big house and a large yard to take care of. I am helping my daughter plan her wedding. I travel frequently, so I don't have a regular volunteer schedule as I once did. But I try to help out when I can. 

I don't expect, or want, accolades or effusive praise. Many people do much more than I do. All I -- and other volunteers -- ask is to be treated with respect. Acknowledge our efforts. A simple "Thank you" is all it takes. Make us feel welcome, and maybe we will volunteer again.