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A very surprising plus: volunteering
Old 03-31-2015, 07:24 PM   #1
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A very surprising plus: volunteering

When I was fully yoked to the career plough, I had no time for even the basics of real life let alone even considering volunteering. Since I bailed on the career (would say I am ESRd at the moment, although some might call me employed), I have cautiously dipped my toe in the water. I still do some work for pay and have two young children, so I have neither the willingness or ability to sign over big hunks of my time to charitable organizations. That said, teaching some 2nd grade classes for Junior Achievers has been very rewarding, as has classroom volunteer stuff in my DD2's math class. I just agreed to some additional volunteer opportunities at a local botanic gardens and its been pretty nice so far. Never would have guessed that this would be an upside to kicking the job to the curb, but there it is.
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Old 03-31-2015, 07:29 PM   #2
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That's great, Brewer! So glad you've found satisfying roles. I definitely enjoy botanic gardens!

I do an annual jaunt co-leading "landscaping for butterflies" tours for our local butterfly festival. It's local festival, but it's actually the top one in the US due to our location.
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Old 03-31-2015, 07:32 PM   #3
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I did JA years ago in a HS. It was rough. So what I have found out is that volunteer creep is alive and well. In fact I recently had an organization say to me well you are retired so you have time. I about lost my religion. As an ER I worked hard to get here and made some hard choices to have the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted with my family. I have no problem volunteering to a point however after that all bets are off. I recently made an agreement with myself that I will only volunteer X number of hours a month. Once I hit that level I am done. It has helped me balance my time a little.
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Old 03-31-2015, 07:55 PM   #4
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Glad to hear you are enjoying volunteering, Brewer.

Although I overcommitted in this regard early on (and regretted it), I very much enjoy my volunteer engagements. My major board commitment ends in July after 5- years (although I will stay on some committees) and my other major commitment is over at the end of 2016 (term limits in both cases). I'm already thinking about what new opportunities might be out there.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:11 PM   #5
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Glad to hear you are enjoying volunteering, Brewer.

Although I overcommitted in this regard early on (and regretted it), I very much enjoy my volunteer engagements. My major board commitment ends in July after 5- years (although I will stay on some committees) and my other major commitment is over at the end of 2016 (term limits in both cases). I'm already thinking about what new opportunities might be out there.
Having heard the horror stories here, I have been very selective with what I am willing to do. Board membership sounds like hell to me.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:36 PM   #6
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Having heard the horror stories here, I have been very selective with what I am willing to do. Board membership sounds like hell to me.
It can be. I've been on several boards and probably only really enjoyed one of them. But everyone's mileage will vary.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:46 PM   #7
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Having heard the horror stories here, I have been very selective with what I am willing to do. Board membership sounds like hell to me.
Really depends on the board. Can be very rewarding. Can be... horrid.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:52 PM   #8
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Really depends on the board. Can be very rewarding. Can be... horrid.
I spent 20 years listening to gasbags bloviate. If I have to go back to a real job and deal with it again in order to provide for my family, so be it. Otherwise, "you folks serving papers?"
<rifle shot sound>
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Old 04-01-2015, 06:37 AM   #9
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No boards for me. Too much like work. I am one of the PC fix-it volunteers for a non-profit that helps people in my neighborhood age in place. I meet a lot of interesting people and I enjoy futzing around with computers. No fixed schedule so I can do what I want when I want.
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Old 04-01-2015, 07:04 AM   #10
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I was quite involved in a community organization in my early 30s and it was the epitome of volunteer creep... ultimately becoming a job. I politefully declined when they wanted me to be President (just for a year they said... right).

The volunteering that I have done since ER is helping out people that I know with different things, serving as guardian for my grandmother and a great-aunt, etc. just friends and family. I am thinking of volunteering at a local adult basis education organization tutoring people getting their GED or at the local foodbank but am hesitant of volunteer creep.
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Old 04-01-2015, 07:55 AM   #11
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After I ER'd about a year ago (pretty much made the decision and pulled the plug in one week when the BS got too deep), I realized that I had the time to work in a garden our church created to grow produce for the local soup kitchen. It was wonderful- instead of sitting at a computer I was with a group thinning out seedlings, pulling weeds, planting cabbages... whatever needed to be done.


I agree on being careful about volunteer creep- I've gotten in too deep before and have turned down commitments that would put me in that position again.
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Old 04-01-2015, 09:01 AM   #12
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We must be doing something wrong. We've tried many times to volunteer only to find all these organizations want is money. That don't want our help at all but we've always lived in very small communities. Larger cities might be much different. We've come to the conclusion this is the reason there are so many charity organizations and volunteer groups with much overlap. IMPO individuals seem to think the charity is "theirs" and only want $ so then others that want to help go and start another like charity that they call "their own" and it just keeps going. We've sure discovered a lot of really weird view points since FIRE. Unless it is just me with the weird viewpoint.
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Old 04-01-2015, 10:28 AM   #13
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I don't think I've ever look at volunteering as w*rk, even in the mildest sense of the word.
From the earliest days, as a boy scout, it was just something one did as a natural part of living in society. Natural... as in... if the ability to help, or lead, or participate is there it was something that you/we/I just did, without thinking about a reason.
Looking back over the years, just too many things that could be considered "volunteer", but never defined as such.
Scout leader, Troop leader, Cubmaster, Scout Master, Committeeman, Merit Badge Counselor... from 1948 to 1986....
Little League coach 3 years
ROTC, US Army... 1954 - 1970
Church leader, teacher, youth group leader, expedition leader 35 years
Red Cross Trainer
Computer class instructor 1992 -2014
HOA committeman 4 years
Social activities committeeman 22 years
Community emergency team 26 years - Counselor
Chamber of Commerce 4 years
PTA 15 years

Had to stretch to remember this much because it was never like "volunteer" as some kind of sacrifice. Just part of the normal life that most folks lead.
Part of being a member of society.
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Old 04-01-2015, 10:52 AM   #14
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With me finally retired, DW has talked about volunteering activities where "we" could make a difference. I keep pointing out to her I did not retire because I was tired of the money showing up in our bank account every two weeks. I'm also amazed how often she brings up things requiring physical labor - for me, of course. I pay someone to cut our yard and trim shrubs. Why would I suddenly decide that I want to cut other people's lawns or something of greater or equal physical exertion?

I have a very low desire to actively volunteer on an ongoing basis. Spot activities are possible but if I want a new job I'll find one with a paycheck.
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Old 04-01-2015, 10:58 AM   #15
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I have a very low desire to actively volunteer on an ongoing basis. Spot activities are possible but if I want a new job I'll find one with a paycheck.
And this may be why, as Hyper observed, many charities are more focused on getting more money and having a professional staff. I agree with you, BTW- I don't want to volunteer for anything that requires that I be somewhere frequently on a fixed schedule. If I want to sleep in, or go out of town on vacation, or take a nice, long bike ride because it's a great day, well, I retired so I can do that!
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:45 PM   #16
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I have worked professionally in the nonprofit world.


I can tell you that in the last 10 years there has been a sea change in how people volunteer. It is much more difficult to get people to volunteer for ongoing duties. Short "spot" activities are becoming the norm.
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:47 PM   #17
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Being Colorado and all, I'd volunteer at the potanical gardens...
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Old 04-01-2015, 01:58 PM   #18
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I have worked professionally in the nonprofit world.


I can tell you that in the last 10 years there has been a sea change in how people volunteer. It is much more difficult to get people to volunteer for ongoing duties. Short "spot" activities are becoming the norm.

This has been working for me. I now volunteer for 2 major activities with 2 different groups. The duration for each is 3-6 months and there is significant overlap in time between the 2 activities. After the activities for the year are complete, the commitment is over.

That being said, I have resigned up to do it again every year for the first activity, and also plan to sign up next year again for the second activity.

Large, unbounded, open-ended commitments seemed too much like w**k to me (the negative parts of it). This on the other hand works quite well.

Also, the leaders in both activities are very good. They have good people skills and recognize my strengths and limits. I try to be open about such things going into it.

Just my 2 cents, but certainly glad that it is working out for me.

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Old 04-01-2015, 02:04 PM   #19
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We must be doing something wrong. We've tried many times to volunteer only to find all these organizations want is money. That don't want our help at all but we've always lived in very small communities. Larger cities might be much different. We've come to the conclusion this is the reason there are so many charity organizations and volunteer groups with much overlap. IMPO individuals seem to think the charity is "theirs" and only want $ so then others that want to help go and start another like charity that they call "their own" and it just keeps going. We've sure discovered a lot of really weird view points since FIRE. Unless it is just me with the weird viewpoint.
Perhaps your are targeting the wrong organizations. Perhaps you should avoid "charities" and seek fraternal organizations etc of any other kind of organizations that are organized around a topic that interests you.

All the organizations that I have been involved with are very happy to get new members, and offer them chances to volunteer to help run the organization and/or the activities that it puts on for its members and perhaps the public.

If the main purpose of the organization is to raise money then that may be the red flag.

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Old 04-01-2015, 02:57 PM   #20
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Being Colorado and all, I'd volunteer at the potanical gardens...
Here in the burbs you would never known legalization happened. The town and county have a moratorium on recreational dispensaries and if there are a lot of weed smokers around me they keep it very quiet.
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