This Is Why People Don’t Volunteer

. . . or at least one of the reasons.*  When people volunteer, instead of thanking these volunteers, people complain.  This Christmas season I was sure to thank my volleyball co-coach, Girl Scout co-leader, my girls’ teachers, and the school security team (especially in this day and age).  When my best friend and I facilitated various children’s religious classes, we were sure to thank parents for being so supportive and for making sure their kiddos attended the classes.  When  a friend stepped up at a recent Girl Scout meeting and showed close to 30 girls how to bake stuffed croissants, I thanked her.  I wanted her to know her value to my co-leader and myself as well as our appreciation.  When a woman blessing at our church took on the task of organizing a women’s conference, not once, but twice, I thanked her.  She did not have to partake in such an endeavor, but she did this out of her kindness for others and her willingness to create memorable experiences for others.

My point here is that there are endless chances to thank others, others who may never have been thanked before for their service, time, and effort.  Think about this, never been thanked before, not ever.  So, if you are bored, thank someone.  If you are depressed, thank someone.  If you are feeling lonely, thank someone.  If you are on Cloud 9, thank someone.  If you are frustrated, find someone . . . anyone to thank.  Have you thanked your postwoman or postman?  Have you thanked those who haul away your garbage?  Have you thanked the pediatrician who heals your kiddos?  Have you thanked the rescue where you found the latest member of your family (no matter how many pillows your new pet has destroyed)?  Have you thanked the faithful readers of your blog?  The friends you consider family?  The neighbor who gifts you with her coupons every week?  The people who feed your children day after day in school?  The children who allow you to experience childhood the way it should be experienced?

You could change another human being’s outlook if only for an instant, and this person may then decide to pay it forward.  Wouldn’t this world be a much better place if everyone took the time to thank AT LEAST one individual a day?

Who is that one person you are going to thank today?  C’mon, you can do it!

*This post is dedicated to my WalMart cashier who said she sends in cookies instead of cupcakes for her daughter’s school parties so that her daughter can manage the cookies on the bus.  She said she’s afraid if she sent cupcakes she would have to walk them into the school and stay and volunteer.

Use Your Words for the Better Good

The other day I was discussing with my longtime loyal friend the lack of filters people seem to have when they speak to others with no thought to feelings or lasting repercussions of their words.  Words, I believe, should be utilized to build people up, encourage them, and make a difference in a positive manner.  Thus, a FREE means of making a difference in the world in which all people are capable of participating. . . amazing.  So, why such a lack of membership in such a tangible fraternity?

In discussions with my class over the social media Yik Yak, they were explaining how the posts were anonymous and typically negative in nature.  My response was, “Sounds as if people have too much time on their hands,” and “This could be a phenomenal medium used to encourage and praise,” without any need for author recognition.  So, why do people, regardless of age, use their words to bully others?

Believe me, I have been a victim of verbal bullying on more than one occasion as simply a human being, but also as a volunteer leader, volunteer coach, and volunteer teacher.  While informally researching this post, I talked with my salt-of-the-earth friends who never hesitate when it comes to donating their time and talents for others.  One friend told of how she and her husband were accused by a parent of bullying their child during a summer softball season.  This is the same woman who drove 3 1/2 hours with two young girls and a newborn to surprise me on my birthday and then turn around and drive 3 1/2 hours back that same evening.  Another mentioned a complaint by a parent when she cancelled a preschool soccer practice due to rain, and she responded with a reminder, “These kids are not training for the Olympics.”  A further woman blessing whom mentored me my first year of coaching over fifteen years ago advised of closed practices as a means of eliminating parental harassment from the sidelines, and she was oh so right.  It is no wonder people look away when asked to volunteer.  Yet, one rarely sees those who complain or critique stepping forward to answer the need for volunteers.  Brian Gotta wrote a Letter from a Coach which eloquently explains this phenomena.

I have had parents suggest I plan field trips and then fail to show with their child.  I have had parents complain about their child’s playing time, but then arrive for the games with player in tow late, time and time again.

This longtime loyal friend of mine who sat for hours in the waiting room with my husband while doctors removed my breasts, who allowed me to trim her hair after school in her classroom, who demanded I participate despite a carbuncle growing on my eyelid, who has been my voice of reason for over fifteen years, who uses her words for the better good ended our conversation with, “Sometimes I see all the mean and negative ways people act and wonder how much society disappoints God.”