Do You Have The Time? by Rich Paschall

There are plenty of community organizations that will grab your time, it only you let them.  They want you for a variety of tasks and the really organized organizers will stalk you if they think you will volunteer for something.  They want you to stuff envelopes, sell tickets, make phone calls, sit at booths and sell things.  They will have you directing traffic, ushering people, handing out programs.  You can go to meetings, answer email, talk on the phone, spend hours of your precious time in pursuit of the organizational mission, whatever that might be.

But what if you do not have the time for this?  After all, if you are part of a family crew, you may have to drive little Johnny or Suzy to soccer practice, karate lessons, football practice, baseball practice, cheerleading practice, dance class, piano lessons, drum and bugle corps, or basketball games.  If they are young, it is pre-school or grade school or day care or after school care.  If they are older it is still sports, music, dances, proms, band, drama, speech and please, drop them at the corner so no one knows their mommy is still driving them around.

Of course, there are all the adult requirements too.  There are the weddings and showers, wakes and funerals.  As we get older, there are more of the latter.  There are dances and parties we don’t want to attend and family events for which you must make your famous __________ (insert dish name here).  It all keeps us so very busy.  How dare these “organizers” presume to prevail upon our valuable time?

Yet, these various events to which you are driving the beloved little ones (or not so-little ones) are probably staffed by volunteers.  Adults, and a handful of older kids, are taking tickets, selling refreshments,. selling t-shirts, directing people around events.  They are running for ice, and pop and cups and napkins.  They are getting mustard and ketchup. They are making emergency runs to Costco or Sam’s Club so they do not run out of water or buns or napkins.  In other words, they are making everything possible that you and little Johnny and Suzy are attending.

As a staff member at a community organization for a few years, and for a private school a few others, I know what it is like to have to run events, dependent on volunteers who may or may not show up.  Fortunately, most are dedicated and in their places when the time comes.

Yes, that's me on the left, getting rained on for the cause.
Yes, that’s me on the left, getting rained on for the cause.

While some organizations pressure the parents of the children who participate to volunteer, many others are reliant on the good will of neighbors and friends.  While many don’t know it, the events they attend throughout the year might not be there if there were no volunteers.  In fact, some community organizations die for lack of volunteer spirit.  A founder of one community organization here said many decades after the organization he began was up and running, that perhaps it should die if the community was not willing to come forward and support it.  They in fact gave up some large events for lack of volunteers.

Here I could give you the “social contract” type speech.  You know the one.  If you are part of the community, you must give up something in order to reap the benefits of community activities.  That something you must give up is your time.  I know that is hard to do in this day and age.  After all we must get home to check our facebook and twitter accounts.  We must look at Instagram and snapchat.  We must check Messenger and Skype.  Then there is Pinterest, StumbleUpon and You Tube, Vimeo and Vivo.

What enriches our lives is what we invest in.  If we invest in our community and its events, then we are richer too.  The volunteer spirit does not necessarily lead to dull and boring jobs.  Instead it can lead to knowing your neighbors.  You could be learning about the organization to which you and your children participate.  It can open new avenues to friendship in the community in which you live.  It can give you an understanding of what it takes to make a community.

Hillary Clinton famously said “It Takes A Village,” from the African Proverb that it take a village to raise a child.  In fact, it takes a community, a good community, to raise a child.  The only way a community can be good and strong, is with the volunteer spirit of its residents.  Are you going to give up an occasional Saturday at some event or sports bar to aid your community, or will you just let someone else do it?  If you choose the later, then I remind you of the philanthropist who suggested that it might be better to let a community organization die, if the community was unwilling to support it.



21 thoughts on “THE COMMUNITY EVENT

  1. Marilyn Armstrong October 18, 2015 / 12:19 am

    It’s surprisingly difficult in areas like ours to find organizations that know what to do with volunteers. There aren’t a lot of organizations except stuff like Rotary … I think we have tried just about everything. Finally, we just got too tired. They either immediately wanted one or both of us to take over the entire organization or they couldn’t find anything for either of us to do. Eventually we got old and tired and gave up. It’s easier in a city or suburb than out in the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rich Paschall October 18, 2015 / 11:09 am

      A lot of community groups do not have good organizers and some actually deserve to go out of existence. I see others that push off too much work on a few because of lack of volunteers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Garry Armstrong October 18, 2015 / 12:41 pm

        Rich, it’s good to “give back” but you have to be very, very careful about the scenario. I know from personal experience. Nice piece, as usual.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Garry Armstrong October 19, 2015 / 12:24 pm

            Rich, you’re right as rain. Ugh. Excuse me.
            Hey, I expect the Cubs-Mets to go 7 games. It’s not beisbol weather but the suits don’t care.


            • Rich Paschall October 19, 2015 / 11:41 pm

              It’s nice here, actually. 70’s Tuesday and Wednesday, not sure about game time. I just don’t want 6 games because I have a Saturday event. 7 will work.


  2. swo8 October 18, 2015 / 3:03 pm

    I’m staying quiet about this one. Don’t want anyone to know I’m out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Last week I hosted a yard sale at our house for a local nonprofit. One snooty woman (who was also volunteering) needed to use the bathroom; as I was giving her directions to one of the two bathrooms we have, she asked why we didn’t have a guest powder room on the first floor as the one I directed her to was on the third floor of our tri-level. She was totally ambulatory btw. So I told her I was very very sorry that my house design disappointed her and did she still want to go to the bathroom or was that a deal breaker for her? Or would she like to wait until hub came back, and we built a powder room just for her? Yeah, I about had had enough of her. I still don’t think she ever figured out that I was being sarcastic. I used to run a nonprof and also was volunteer coordinator for a couple others in my day and I don’t think I can do it anymore. I’m done. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rich Paschall November 13, 2016 / 11:21 am

    Reblogged this on Sunday Night Blog and commented:

    There are so many demands on our time. Do you have the time to volunteer for something? Let’s review.


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