Friday, November 14, 2003

Volunteer Blues

I went to the William Way Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Community Center (otherwise known as the Way Gay Center) last night to volunteer for a planning committee, and - surprise, surprise - almost no one showed up. Three of us hung out for 35 minutes before throwing in the towel and moving on. This committee, BTW, is supposed to work on new programming to draw people to the Center, so it's ominous that the chairperson never even bothered to attend.

I used to do loads of volunteer work: the gay Ultimate group, Team Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus, Q'zine. I dropped out of all of it over a period of two years because I developed the dreaded Volunteer Burn-Out (VBO). VBO happens for many reasons, but typical causes are:

- When 2% of the members do 98% of the work
- When 98% of the non-working members don't even bother to attend the events put together by the 2%
- When 98% of the non-working members feel free to criticize - but not assist - the work of the 2%

I soldiered along for as long as I could, but eventually I got to the point where volunteering was no longer enjoyable. My attitude towards volunteering is thus: If it's not fun, I'm not doing it. Well, it became really not fun, so I dropped out. Somewhat rejuvenated, I'm looking to re-enter the world of volunteering, and last night was an inauspicious start.


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