Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Do you Volunteer?

I mentioned yesterday that I had some PTA obligations this month that were non-negotiable (as in, I have already agreed to helping with certain events, in addition to my usual Secretary duties).  A few people asked why I do PTA, do I like it, it can suck you dry.

First off....I do like PTA.  I don't like the politics that go along with it sometimes, and over the past year, we certainly have had our share of that.  But as a whole, I like knowing what is going on in my kids' school, being part of the decision process, and overall, contributing to the well being of the school.

One of my peeves about PTA is the LACK of participation.  Everyone wants the end product....no one wants to work.  It is amazing to overhear conversations of how something could have been better if we did blah blah blah.  Well, then next time, come on out and help us with it.  Additionally, if everyone took the attitude that "someone else will do it," then no one ends up doing it.

The biggest thing we hear over and over is....I don't have time.  We all have the same 24 hrs in a day...it is about how you use it.  We all have kids (obviously), so don't use that as an excuse.  It is usually the people who are the MOST busy who volunteer the most.  I am not saying that there aren't legitimate reason why someone isn't able to help.  But after knowing the people who do most of the work....they are the ones who have the most on their plate.

Additionally, no one says you have to volunteer for everything!  If you have a particular interest in an area, or there is a month that things tend to be a little quieter, then pick that one thing and help!

Of course, there are the core people who are always the ones to help out.  Whether it is baking something, jumping in to help run an event, or even just attending the monthly meeting...they are always there.  It is easy to burn out.  I worry about our President.  Our principal runs her ragged.  And because she is a friend of mine...I know about her personal life.  She has a lot on her plate....more than most.  She keeps piling it on.  I worry about her.  She doesn't know how to say NO.  If you are going to volunteer...you do need to know where your limit is and be able to enforce it.

Having active parent participation is important in education.  Knowing that you are helping to shape the climate where your children spend 6-7 hrs of their day is a worth while use of time.  In the very least....be active in YOUR child's life. 

I also like that my children see that I have something that I "give back" to.  It isn't just about work and home.  It is about community.  My kids are proud that their Mom is at school doing things.  That their Mom knows everyone.  And that it is their Mom that makes events possible. 

So I encourage you all to volunteer for something! 

17 comments:

  1. My mom was always volunteering for school projects (PTA, Library Aid, Carnival Chairman, Yearbook Committee) when I was a kid. You're teaching your kids a valuable lesson. And inspiring me to try to find volunteer opportunities.

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    1. Good for you! I am the PTA Secretary, and co-chair for 3 bookfairs per year. Plus misc. other things!

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  2. That works, I have a lot of respect for PTA... They're always doing nice stuff for the teachers and every year they give the wife $100 gift card for school stuff.

    HS

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    1. We try to give back what we can. Teacher appreciation week is next week, and I am making all sorts of things!

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  3. AMEN!!!! We couldn't always make donations of $$ when our children were little but I knew how to work and wasn't afraid to do it. Being at the school was a win win for everyone. Kudo's for you getting out and doing what needs to be done, your children, the teachers and all students will be blessed

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    1. We aren't able to monetarily contribute much beyond the membership fee. I find the fundraisers to be overpriced (but we have some great ones lined up for next year). But I like to think that my time is more valuable than the money.

      Thanks!

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  4. I used to volunteer, but rarely do anymore. So, you'd probably meet me now and think I was one of those rude parents who never help out. I spent 10 years volunteering for my kids activities, took on board positions, committee positions (usually at the same time), you name it, I helped with it. I finally got tired of being treated like crap from all those parents that don't volunteer, but want to tell you how it should be done (and worse actions). I don't know whether they acted like that because they felt guilty for not volunteering their time more or resented me because I could and did volunteer my time (I worked a full time job and the volunteering was basically another full time job) but I finally just started saying NO, NO and NO. Life's been a lot simpler and happier for me since then.

    I admire those that can volunteer a lot of their time and enjoy it at the same time. Hopefully one day I'll feel differently again and find some enjoyment out of it.

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    1. You are describing what I said....people who have alot to say but don't actually contribute...taking on more than you can handle...needing to know how to say NO.

      Sometimes you need to take a break to recharge....and maybe you will feel differently later. Thanks for the volunteering you have done in the past!

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  5. I am a member of Another Octave: The CT Women's Chorus. I am also on the Board of Directors. A few years ago, we instituted a "Sweat Equity" policy for all members. You are obligated to give 20 hours of Sweat Equity per year or pay $20 per hour you don't do. We thought we would have a huge backlash, but amazingly, everyone LOVED the idea. So many of our members wanted to participate, but didn't really know what they could do. And those of us who were doing everything got much better at delegating so others could do stuff. We had only 3 or 4 people out of over 30 who needed to pay. AND we got all kinds of stuff done by so many people. It's amazing to see how people jump at doing things because they get "Sweat Points".

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    1. That is a terrific idea! I bet everyone reaped the benefits.

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  6. One thing that's annoying about PTA people is the way they create fundraisers, then sell all the goods to their unfortunate friends, acquaintances, and co-workers so that their tiny kid can "win," and then they also make sure their kid gets the "limo lunch," or "principal for a day" or whatnot. And this is all while guilting everyone into $10 rolls of wrapping paper or $8 candy bars.

    The mister sat on the PTA board for one year and found out that they roll like $30,000 over from year to year because they have no idea what to spend it on. Then of course we get glared at if we don't pay up our shakedown money every year (dues) in addition to buying free trade hand-roasted organic coffee from Hillbilly Mountain Fundraising Conglomerate that takes about $18 per bag of supermarket-grade coffee and gives $2 to the school.

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    1. Oh yes, and $1 of that $2 is used to fund the "limo lunch" and whatever else is needed supposedly to motivate parents (er.. I mean kids) to want to get out there and be salespeople.

      The short answer, though, is yes - I've logged a lot of hours making copies and stapling stuff, in addition to classroom helping, too.

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    2. First off, there shouldn't be 30K rollover...you can lose your non-profit status that way.

      Second, most of the fundraisers we do give us 40% of the profit. That said, the items are overpriced. We do NOT push the kids to sell, or to win prizes. Next year we are looking at some unique fundraisers (not the wrapping paper and misc stuff no one wants), and we are hoping to get a good response.

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  7. I don't volunteer at the PTA, but I was the mom who helped at every classroom party, every field trip and every dance, every fund raiser, etc. Now I am the 4-H leader, Leader's Association president and large livestock superintendant. Last week I joined the Livestock Auction Board. I also still help with the school fundraisers and other school events. I finally resigned from my position on the Retired Senior Volunteer Program board. I love senior citizens, but I don't need to go to meetings to figure out how to help them volunteer. I am learning to say no to things I don't want to do.

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  8. I don't have any kids, so that rules me out for PTA. However, I volunteer at church, the local PBS station, and am a member of the Jr League. I've been in leadership positions in Jr League for too many years - hoping to take a step back next year...

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