Open letter from a frustrated would-be volunteer

Editor: The following is an open letter to organizations seeking volunteers:

I know you’re out there — clubs, groups, charitable foundations of all sizes looking for volunteers.

Langley now has an organization for/about volunteers to connect people with the people that need them.

The Surrey and Langley Operation Red Nose disbanded in 2017 due to a lack of volunteers. I’ve heard the phrases before: We need help with everything — no matter how much or how little you want to commit to. So it seems it should be relatively easy to find a placement, but it’s not, and it’s not just me. I have spoken with three other people who have had similar challenges in finding places to volunteer.

I have been looking for a couple of years now.

I went to the inaugural Langley Volunteers meet and greet and I put my name down with a few organizations – some have called, some have not.

Some said they would call back when their one time large events came up, but that event came and went without a call. Some called three months later, five days before they needed the help and seemed surprised that I happened to be busy on that date.

If you can’t have someone contact me earlier to confirm you needed help that day, why do you think I would keep that time frame open?

One organization I contacted to ask if they could use volunteers. They were grateful that I took the time and effort to contact them because they were not actively looking for volunteers. I figured this is the one.

I attended the get-to-know-you meeting with the organizer, went to get my RCMP clearance – twice, because the organization did not tell me all the items that I needed to bring with me; and I attended the actual volunteer training.

I put feedback on my survey about how to improve the training (they are new, as it was only their third session) and now I need another face to face meeting. Two emails back to the co-ordinator, and no follow-up meeting was ever scheduled.

You need help in sorting through donations – I can help. What, I need to attend an interview and a separate training session, just to sort out donations?

I have left voice messages, email messages and Facebook messages with six or seven organizations that have not called back.

In some cases I have called the same organization twice and I happened to run into the person that ‘runs’ the organization and mentioned that nobody had called me back. She apologized and said someone would get back to me, and yet I am still waiting.

I realize my volunteer availability hours might be more of a challenge to work around because I can only volunteer in late afternoons, evenings and weekends.

But maybe you can acknowledge there are a wide range of hours in the week and change the hours needed and the way things need to be done.

Do I really have to come into your office to update a database or computer files? Can’t it be done at my home on my computer?

Why can’t I take the small items home with me and organize them there and drop them off at your office area?

I read a very interesting article about long standing service clubs such as the Lions and Rotary, and how they were having difficulties retaining members. The premise of this article was to suggest that the clubs, and their meeting styles need to change to attract the way the Millennials function and live their lives.

Trust me, I am far from being a Millennial, but I can’t help but see and feel the similarities in my experience in trying to volunteer in Langley.

I understand there are rules in place, and there can be confidentially concerns, but perhaps thinking about ways to make it easier for volunteers to help you will help you get your tasks done.

Heck, I could even volunteer to help you figure out how to change.

T. Rickards,

Langley

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