I admit it, I probably am a bit of a volunteer junkie. I know how much I get back from volunteering. That said, I have discovered that sometimes there are some volunteer opportunities I enjoy even more than others.
I am on the board of a Willowbrook, a wonderful summer arts camp my kids have attended for several years. It’s a six-week camp. Every week we have new campers who attend. Every Monday morning there are new kids and parents who aren’t familiar with our check in/check out logistics or what they do after they’ve checked in. It’s kind of like Ground Hog’s day. For a couple of years, I have voluntarily showed up on Monday mornings to be a greeter, parent/board liaison and trouble-shooter. The younger 20-year-olds at the registration desk have told me frequently how grateful they are to have me there. They know that sometimes an anxious new parent feels more comfortable talking with another parent than with a younger registration staff member – though they certainly are completely competent to answer all the questions.
Over the years, I have come to really enjoy this volunteer job. I have had other long time camp parents ask me if I am on staff or getting paid to work to weekly morning shift. I cheerfully answer no. The truth is that I love this self-appointed job. I feel useful and feel that I am helping people. It’s actually something I look forward to ALOT. I especially enjoy the one-on-one interaction with fellow parents. Learning why they chose our camp and how they heard about us is valuable information for our board. In addition, the past two years, I have also passed out information about our auction in the parking lot in the carpool line while parents are waiting to pick up their kids. It’s a chance to connect again and perhaps get some valuable feedback as well.
Neither of these roles were filled before I volunteered, but because they were something I loved doing I said I’d do it. Sometimes volunteering is matching the right person with the right job. It creates a synergy and an opportunity for the volunteer to really meld into their experience in a way that is meaningful and beneficial to both the organization and the volunteer. I know for me personally out of all the roles I have played at the camp, being the Monday morning greeter has been one of my favorites.
If you are part of an organization, and you see a need, offer to fill it! You might be surprised how gratifying it can be.