We are only 4 weeks into our 52 week project and we have already experienced a wide array of emotions. The most recent emotion we have dealt with is frustration. We knew that we would run into roadblocks, hurdles, and opportunities on our journey to give back, but we didn’t expect to deal with this one so soon. We began our project by creating a list of organizations that we planned to contact and schedule times in which to volunteer. We were off to a great start in scheduling experiences and the first three weeks went off without a hitch. Then, we hit the wall. A wall of frustration.
We had multiple organizations that we had tentatively planned to spend time with that fell through due to the lack of response from the organization. We will not name those organizations as we are not here to spread negativity about organizations that do so much good in our community. We also hope that we can still work with these organizations as we move forward. We have learned that many organizations have a lot red tape you must cross in order to be a volunteer. I called one organization and spoke to someone about volunteering. She directed me to the website where I completed the online application to be a volunteer. It has now been three weeks and I have not received a phone call. I called a different organization and experienced a similar situation. She actually took my name and address so that she could mail me volunteer application. Upon opening the mail, I saw that the actual application only featured my name, address, phone number, and a question about how I wanted to volunteer. Really? Couldn’t the lady just ask me those few extra questions when I called and saved the time. So, I filled out the application, returned it through snail mail, and now wait for a response. These are just two examples of situations that have kept us from our mission. Here we are, a family looking to give back by reaching out to organizations who say they need volunteers, and we wait. We are frustrated, but we will continue to push forward to make the impact we want to make. For us, we will overcome. I am concerned that others who experience the same frustrations will not. They will hit that wall of frustration and give up. They will change their mind about volunteering and the people within our community will suffer. There are many people in our towns and communities who are willing to get involved. When they decide to, the process must be a smooth and easy one. We cannot afford to discourage those who are stepping forward to help their neighbor.
We urge others who want to volunteer in their communities to research the application process for your selected organizations before committing to be a volunteer. Each and every organization has a different process depending on the mission. It is important to understand the process before you think you can just volunteer. We have learned that in many cases you cannot walk in off of the street and give your time. The more you know up front the better expectation you can create about your experience.
We are excited about the upcoming experiences that are planned. We will be spending time with Community Harvest Food Bank, The Fort Wayne Urban League, and Neighborlink Fort Wayne over the next few weeks. We are now scheduling our volunteer experiences for August. We are thankful for the hurdles and challenges we have endured. They will allow us to better plan and serve our community organizations in the future. Things do not always go as planned. Who cares! Learn, adapt, and make a difference.