Everything Bremerton: The joys and pains of the volunteer organization

Volunteering for various community organizations over the past 20 years has taught me quite a number of things. The primary lesson learned every single time? Ten percent of the people involved do 90 percent of the work. In sports car clubs, PTAs, finance committees and most recently youth sports organizations I have found myself being in that 10 percent group, the 10 percent group that works itself very thin and very hard so that the 90 percent can just kick back, not be bothered and continue to cruise right along.

I have spent a considerable amount of time, during my years of service, pondering this and the answers I have come up with are rather disheartening at times. The majority of adult participants in volunteer organizations have become a selfish, drive thru society bent on instant gratification with little personal responsibility and even less accountability. The mantra of “I paid my money to join or participate so I don’t have to lift a finger” does not work for very long. This type of behavior slowly eats away at the stability and health of the organization as a whole. It undermines the effectiveness of the service the organization is providing to the community in the first place and only leads to an eventual breakup or total collapse.

Volunteer organizations are a significant piece of what defines and supports us as a community. These groups fill the holes that taxpayer funded or for-profit corporations cannot or will not fill. They provide services and activities that would not exist otherwise. Volunteers run the gambit between providing support and assistance to our community members in need to offering positive role models and safe environments to our youth.

To become really successful, the formation of a true working partnership between the organization and the community must be in place. A partnership which includes much more than just the ability by participants to write a check or pay a fee. It means everyone stepping up to carry their portion of the workload. Extra time, extra money, more donations and some inconveniences must be experienced and shared by all.

Really take some time this week and look hard at what you take and what you give of yourself and your time. Is it in balance? Are you a burden or a help to any volunteer driven organization you or your family participate in? If you want to continue to receive the benefits from these organizations, then you need to stop making excuses and step it up and shoulder your portion of responsibility for the organizations’ continued existence and success right now. There is a lot to lose, for everyone in the community, if you don’t.

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