I have noticed how much of our town's growth depends not upon corporate finaces trickling down....but upon the backs of our volunteers (either retired people or those who can afford to give their time and energies to charitable organizations.)
And what is the return these folks get from their dedication?
Smiling faces who receive food from Bounty and Soul, and Food Connection. Gathering with other like minded people and getting to know new friends in their volunteer work. Education is certainly a bonus from my being a docent at the Swanannoa Valley History Museum. I wish I could remember half of what I hear about! And giving back to the areas that feel like blessings in my life, which is what my volunteer time at the Clay Studio of Black Mountain Center for the Arts provides for me.
The lunch program runs on volunteers who prepare and clean up, who serve the lunches which are catered by a local restaurant in Asheville under a Council on Aging program. The Black Mountain Recreation and Parks has a few paid employees who organize things, including trips around the area.
I know our church also runs on the backs, hands and feet of volunteers. As a new editor for a monthly magazine for that organization, I want to feature the volunteers who don't get as much recognition as I think they should. Others feel the same way, and hopefully will write articles for me, which I'll then add to this newsy e-zine.
But I'm also aware of many time having joined a committee, or worked to share a new creative idea, which over time doesn't seem to work as well as my original intention, and then I've just done the job that is maybe menial but I can do it. And then eventually I've "burned out."
I think appreciation is a lame way to avoid that. There is little feedback to let volunteers know that they are doing well, or maybe need to change their approach so that their work will be more (what?) It should be enjoyable for them, and fruitful for their particular job, and efficient in that they won't make more work for others, and appreciated by those they serve of course.
If you volunteer somewhere, how do you know that you're doing it well? How do you feel committed and invigorated in the doing? Seriously. Comment below, because I want to know.