Julie's Web Journal

More natterings than you can shake a stick at! Est. 2002

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Weekend Assignment: Volunteers

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Yes, I was going to step away from the computer, but I felt I really owed Karen this one.

Have you ever been actively involved in a campaign or a cause, to the point of doing more than just donating or voting? Tell us about the phone calls, the food drive, the charity walk or other civic-minded work you've done, if any. And if you've never done this sort of thing, why not? (It's okay if you haven't - I'm just interested in the reasons.)

I'm a parent. I did five years on the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization, which is independent of the PTA) board. I did it because I believe in education, and felt that as a work at home parent, I could afford the time.

And boy, did it become a time sucker. I ended up spending massive amounts of time on the annual school supply sale, even when it wasn't my job. I put together a yearbook, a student directory, took pictures for the yearbook, helped with every darn thing under the sun at school, and what did I get for it?

We volunteer because we believe in the organization or the cause. But what happened to me at that school our last year was horrible. I won't recount the story, but I will say I picked my school volunteer jobs very carefully after that.

This is my big beef with most volunteer organizations I've worked with. Politics tend to take over the cause - even when the cause is political. There's the infighting, the "my contribution is better than yours" competitions, and so on. It was all so soul sucking that I gave up for a while.

Oh, I've worked on individual charity events, as you know from reading the journal. I just didn't want to be the one to take the heat.

Until now.

A few years back I got involved with the Dallas Future Society. They are a 501(c)(3) group dedicated to literary purposes. Their major event is FenCon, a literary SF convention. Every year, FenCon raises money for a charity. Some conventions have a relationship with a single charity; we prefer to support a different one every year.

Through the convention we promote reading and writing. And art. And a whole bunch of other stuff. And yeah, we have a heck of a lot of fun (mostly) putting it on, and our guests, program participants, and people who just come to hang out all have a grand time. And did I mention we send money to charity?

I had so much fun attending the first two years, that when they asked me to come on board and help for the third year, I said yes. I ended up being in charge of programming for the convention. It's a big job. We have a lot of panelists, panels, demos, concerts, readings, and so on to juggle. Every year presents new challenges, but every year some tasks get easier.

My responsibilities with the convention will be changing, and I'm not sure if it's something I'm allowed to say or not. A lot of my friends on Facebook now, because they're on the con committee. We'll be making some very cool announcements at our event next month. I am at once excited, humbled, and scared.

We'll see how it goes.

Extra Credit: Do you have a favorite charity? Which one?

I tend to spread the love around, but I don't donate until I know how the charity spends their donations. So don't bother to call me on the phone and ask for a donation. You won't get it. It's not because I'm a meanie; I just want to know where the money is going - and make sure I'm not giving my credit card number out to a con artist.

I have a soft spot for the Salvation Army. I shop at their store, I send them goods, and they get money. And at Christmas I always try to make sure I have something for the kettles. Those bell ringers have to put up with a lot - the changeable Texas weather, jerks from the general public, standing on their feet all day, you name it. but (to bring it back to the topic) they're doing it for a cause. I think some of them may get paid now, but I don't think they'd be out there day after day acting so cheerful for a pittance if they didn't believe in what they were doing. Maybe I'm naive, but that's the way I feel.

Karen, I thought I sent you some ideas. I'll try to keep on the lookout for some. But as I wrote in the last entry, I'm onto my really busy season now. Hmm. I just had an idea. I'll e-mail it to you.

Tags:

Filed under: Weekend Assignment            
8/15/2009 8:32:11 PM


1  Comments |  Add yours!



Gravatar Karen Funk Blochersaid:
Sorry about the PTO ending up as such a bummer for you. I totally understand about group politics and infighting - well, that it exists, not why people are like that or how to stop it. I'm glad FenCon is a better experience for you. Maybe someday I'll even get there!

K.

Date: 8/15/2009 9:42:58 PM

Gravatar Karen Funk Blochersaid:
Sorry about the PTO ending up as such a bummer for you. I totally understand about group politics and infighting - well, that it exists, not why people are like that or how to stop it. I'm glad FenCon is a better experience for you. Maybe someday I'll even get there!

K.

Date: 8/15/2009 9:42:58 PM






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