Haiku 942

Posted: under Alison's Haiku, Daily Haiku.
Tags: , August 10th, 2011

by Alison

by Alison


volunteerism should not

create more chaos


Okay, so this is a kvetch-ku. I seemed to have gotten myself into a pickle with volunteerism. Do not get me wrong – I believe in volunteer work. Seeing as my last full-time job had me working at a volunteer-driven organization, I like to practice what I once preached and contribute to my community and give back to the world.

I started volunteering as a child assisting an art therapist (although all I remember doing was playing with the art) continued into my teen years cooking meals for the homeless and delivering meals through Meals on Wheels.  I liked doing this work. It was social, it pulled me out of my world and got me to understand others, and I felt good about contributing in small but very practical ways. It was just a few hours per month and did not in any way interfere with my school work, my family time or my social life. As an adult I volunteered as a conversation partner for international students and recent immigrants. Oh, how I loved this volunteer position! So much did I love chatting away with newcomers from Korea, Argentina and Nicaragua, that I quickly enrolled in an ESL certification course and never looked back. To this day, I teach English to immigrants and I love it.

But…. volunteerism is not always a good thing. I’m not sure if it’s just a woman thing, but every where I turn someone is asking me to bake a batch of cookies. Now let me confess – I am not a great baker. I forget cookies in the oven and my muffins turn out like rocks. And yet it takes me several hours of baking + shopping + cleanup to bake a batch of weird looking cookies to deliver to a bake sale in which no one will buy them… except me. What good is this, I ask? Next time, I’m writing a check. For the seasoned bakers out there, brava! I will buy your brownies too.

I also recently agreed to a local volunteer job before getting all the details. You see, I am not very good at being put on the spot. So when I was asked publicly to take on a “little” writing position I responded with an “Um, oh, yeah! Okay, I’ll do it.” Big mistake. The little job had my staying up till 2 a.m. for three weeks straight to meet a deadline. Ugh. But I’m working on getting kinda sorta tougher. I gave notice for this writing position and will only be doing it for one more month. And I am starting to consider more deeply what I want and don’t want out of volunteer work.

What do you think? What makes volunteerism wonderful and what makes it a major pain in the tuchas?  Tell me about your volunteerism – the good, the bad, everything!



  • 1

    As you know we recently moved to NJ so when one of the few friendly moms at Darcy’s camp asked if I wanted to sign up for volunteer stuff during the preschool year, I said yes. But then I sat down with the list and thought realistically about what wasn’t going to drive me crazy and only committed to 2 (out of maybe 50) projects. Luckily the mom said any help was appreciated and didn’t mind. Phew!

    Comment by Ariel — August 11, 2011 @ 6:06 am

  • 2

    You should figure out how to make cupcakes out of soap. Or fortune cookies out of soap! Either would be a hit at a bake sale. At least I would buy them.

    Comment by Kelly — August 11, 2011 @ 6:53 am

  • 3


    Success! Two projects is not bad out of 50. Unless those two projects have you staying up till 2 a.m 😉 But I like how you did not agree on the spot. This is something I have recently just learned. Never agree to volunteer only moments after being asked. Wait to really give it some thought, think about your schedule etc. And stay firm. Once I did tell the “asker” that I needed to get more information about the tasks, needed to think about my schedule, etc. But the “asker” went ahead and told everyone I would be doing it. Either she forgot what I said or just wanted to get me involved. But I did not stay firm. At this point I just went ahead and did the job instead of speaking up. Despite me being all into “girl power”, at times I have difficulty speaking up for myself and setting boundaries.

    Kelly, I love the idea of soap cupcakes! I think I sent you a soap cupcake or a soap candle for one of you birthdays, but not one made by me. Pre-soap making on my part. Was it fun to wash with cake? But I think any soapy deserts that I make I will just gift or keep the profits from (hopefully) soon-to-be Etsy sales.

    Comment by Alison — August 12, 2011 @ 6:58 am

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