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Old 05-09-2009, 11:01 AM   #101
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Every once in a while the title of this article comes up in our household conversations:
"Candy striper my ass!"

Sometimes the paid employees of non-profits aren't quite the caliber you'd expect. Other times there's a reason they're looking for a volunteer to do certain jobs... but hopefully this article is out of date.
Nope -- still true, at least for the larger organizations. They have their ways and they don't use volunteers to the best advantage -- I don't mean skill set, but mean that they don't train/supervise properly to get the best result.

-- Rita
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:48 AM   #102
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I actually got "fired" from "volunteer" patrol/security duty I was doing for my community association. Apparently, the Chief of geezer patrol didn't like my "layed back" attitude, my refusal to wear their stupid hat, I wore a yankees cap instead
Sounds like grounds for termination to me.

(And no, I'm not a Red Sox fan!)
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Old 05-09-2009, 05:37 PM   #103
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Originally Posted by Gotadimple View Post
Nope -- still true, at least for the larger organizations. They have their ways and they don't use volunteers to the best advantage -- I don't mean skill set, but mean that they don't train/supervise properly to get the best result.

-- Rita
The article is still dead on unfortunately. Frankly, volunteering has been one of the few disappointments about retirement. While my arrogance level wasn't quite as absurd as some of the people in the article, I did hope to find some volunteer activity that was intellectually stimulating. After 10 years of half-heartily looking I have concluded that they are very hard to find. Volunteer jobs which utilize your unique skills require more dedication than I am willing to put in. Although they are out there.

I have volunteered with six different organizations and investigated a couple of others, but I am far from an expert in the field. Still in my experience the fundamental problem is that organization treat volunteers in generic fashion. For the most part organization have a few specific tasks for volunteers; pet, groom, fed animals; paint, put up dry wall; tutor adults/kids in reading; give guided tours; answer questions; perform administrative task; dispense food; sell thrift clothes etc. These tasks require no or minimal prior experience. Hence you often see high school students performing their required community activity, along side senior citizens with 50 years of experience in the field.

Now good organizations have formal training programs to ensure a uniform base level of knowledge or skill. While I did learn something in all of the training programs I have been in, it is not uncommon for a volunteer in training to have far more expertise than the teacher. This expertise is often not only not appreciated but in some cases viewed as a threat.

I have enjoyed the specific volunteer jobs I've done, which for the most part involve interacting with visitors and acting as a guide. However, the jobs become repetitious quickly and much of the enjoyment comes from interacting with fellow volunteers and the paid staff. There is very little opportunity for growth, or variety.

There are exceptions; I have seen situations where volunteers end up with a wide range of responsibilities. For instance at the aviation museum, volunteers are in charge of IT, fund raising, much of the historical research and aircraft restoration, in addition to the traditional roles as museum docents. The downside is when they have the volunteer appreciation ceremonies (I attended one last night) these dedicated folks put in 800-2000 hours a year, which is more like a 1/2 to full time job.

So we end up in a catch 22 situation. Organizations are understandably reluctant to entrust volunteers with positions of responsibility because they have no means of controlling them, you can't insist they the work overtime until the jobs is done because you can't fire them nor cut their pay! Nor is reasonable for volunteers to expect organization to entrust them with "strategic" responsibility simply on the strength of their resumes.
Hence, volunteers are required to start at the ground level as a candy stripper before gaining access to more interesting jobs. However, not many people are willing to devote more than one day a week to a candy stripper activity. I think this is why I see very few Baby Boomers as volunteers.

I have heard that in Silicon Valley some organizations have ended up turning things upside down and use volunteers for the interesting strategic jobs, and hiring people to stuff envelopes etc... I am not seeing that spread at least in Hawaii.
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Old 05-09-2009, 07:12 PM   #104
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Nope -- still true, at least for the larger organizations. They have their ways and they don't use volunteers to the best advantage -- I don't mean skill set, but mean that they don't train/supervise properly to get the best result.
-- Rita
Yes, some certainly do have "their ways". A sample of experiences...
Story 1 : This may be a small town effect, but I was actually not called back by a local senior center.
I wanted to hang out and play cards or checkers of chess or read books for visually impaired folks or shut-ins. They wanted me to answer telephones or use my car to take folks to appointments. I declined both and said call me if you change your mind. They never called. My guess is there is some sort of hierarchy and all new people get stuck on phone duty or it's nothing at all.
Story 2: So I went to the local VA clinic. I did volunteer driving for almost 2 years with the DAV. It was fun. The passengers (mostly guys) were great and wicked flirts with me.
But a huge fight broke out and escalated between the local office and the parent office over some nonsense. I tried to ignore it, but it was a big negative. It reminded me of w*rk. But I hung in there.
Then came the day when the AM driver made the run despite a forecast of lake effect snow and high wind warnings (up to 35 mph gusts). I did the PM run and was barely able to keep the van on the road. I walked every passenger (80 yr young guys with mobility issues) to their front door through 5 inches of snow and ice.
They were all worried I would get back OK. I did, but it was white knuckle all the way.
When I reported the situation, one of the schedulers told me he disagreed with my annotation on my trip log that the conditions were an extreme safety hazard to the passengers and driver. Um...hello ?
So I took the test of the year off. There is no shortfall of drivers. Until the schedulers take our safety seriously, I cannot in good conscience continue.
Story 3: Food bank. Started in January, going great. No drama.
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Great Reading
Old 06-17-2010, 10:07 AM   #105
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Great Reading

Came across this thread and is very timely now that I am 13 days from ER. I am having the nightmares about how to build a new routine after w*rking for so many years. I have talked with the wife about how I need to learn to relax and be content with not being constructively busy all the time. The notion of "being" instead of doing caught my eye.
I know it will take some time to adjust, but nervously looking forward to the future at this time.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:49 AM   #106
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Came across this thread and is very timely now that I am 13 days from ER. I am having the nightmares about how to build a new routine after w*rking for so many years. I have talked with the wife about how I need to learn to relax and be content with not being constructively busy all the time. The notion of "being" instead of doing caught my eye.
I know it will take some time to adjust, but nervously looking forward to the future at this time.
(FAQ archive) But... what will I do all day?

Before ER, "What will we DO all day?!?" is one of the top three worries.

After ER, this rapidly sinks to the level of "Just exactly what the hell was I worried about?!?"
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:20 PM   #107
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(FAQ archive) But... what will I do all day?

Before ER, "What will we DO all day?!?" is one of the top three worries.

After ER, this rapidly sinks to the level of "Just exactly what the hell was I worried about?!?"
Yup, I still don't have enough hours in the day. Don't know how I managed to find all that time for work before.
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:32 PM   #108
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I never had trouble figuring out what to do (other than chores) on Saturdays, when I was working. I do a lot of the same things now that I am retired, but now I have the whole week instead of just Saturdays.

I have been pretty busy. In fact, I just posted on another thread that I haven't even had time to watch a single DVD since retiring (though we have been to the movie theater two or three times). I haven't done any of the things on my "list of retirement activities", such as birdwatching, playing the piano again, taking classes, and so on. I just don't have time. I sleep late, enjoy Frank's company, post on the forum, read, and putter around the house. Life as a retiree is wonderful.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:27 PM   #109
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Good post Nords.

It was very "Dude" like!
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