Friday, February 10, 2012

The headaches of volunteering

I am a girl guide leader for a local Sparks unit, which means I plan and supervise weekly meetings that include singing, activities, games and crafts with 5-6 year old girls. This year I have 12 girls enrolled and have one other guider to help me run the meetings.

When I was growing up I went through the girl guide program from start to finish (Brownies, Girl Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers/Junior Leaders, although Sparks didn't exist when I was 5) but when I moved away to attend university I didn't continue. In fact it was only last year, 10 years since I was a junior leader, that I signed up as a guider. I did so for two reasons.

  1. I wanted to volunteer somewhere, as I hadn't since high school, and believe that the Girl Guide organization is truly a great place for girls to build confidence and learn interesting skills.
  2. My sister had been a guider for the last few years and peer pressure is an amazing thing.
Last year's unit only had 8 girls, 2 of whom rarely showed up. Also the majority of the girls were 6 years old which meant that they had already been exposed to structure and rules at school for a year so had an easier time listening and behaving during meetings. 2 guiders were more then enough.

This year...not so much!

We have alot of 5 year olds, not to mention all 12 girls show up for almost EVERY meeting. I did not expect it to be that much hard to run a meeting with 4-6 more girls but let me tell you....

Having only one assisting guider is getting to be not enough but unfortunately none of my other friends have shown a huge interest in joining. I'm sure I could twist some arms but I really want women that WANT to be there, not just there to do me a favor. I am now considering asking the mothers of my Sparks if one or two of them would be interested in helping out. I hesitated on this because I think that it would be difficult to tell a girl she is misbehaving in front of her mother, as well as I don't want a mother to come and just 'hang out' with her daughter. I need her to assist with preparation of crafts, activities and snacks, as well as just helping me keep them from running and screaming everywhere!

Which brings me to my newest headache with volunteering. For some reason, some people don't realize that I'm actually a VOLUNTEER, not a paid employee which means I have a full time job during the day. It is not my job to chase after you when you don't submit things on time, nor can I read minds and know that you do not understand a process.

Tonight we are going to the Manitoba Museum of Man & Nature for a sleepover. It is an area event, not a unit one, which means that I don't plan it and it isn't only my 12 girl going, rather 150 girls from sparks, brownies and guides will be attending.

When I sent out the information I told mothers they would be welcome to come as well to act as supervisors. The mothers that chose to attend were informed be me in person that they were required by Girl Guides of Canada to have a background check done and that they needed to contact our provincial office to do this.

Two of the four had no problems, the third misunderstood me and when to the Province of Manitoba's Court offices to get a background check done (this was sorted out but cost her additional money), and the fourth one...on the fourth one....

She submitted the form when I sent her a reminder from our area along with links to provincials forms (links I did NOT have earlier) but she didn't complete it and it was rejected. I was told yesterday that they would not be able to submit a new one in time for her to be approved to attend tonight, which I forwarded to her, and proceeded to receive a wonderful email this morning informing me (and cc'ing area) that she was "extremely disappointed in the lack of communication" on my part to properly inform parents of the change in required paperwork, that she didn't receive emails or paperwork from our organization other then the last minute email reminder. EXCUSE ME?!?!

In an attempt to remain diplomatic I apologized that this situation occurred but reminded her I had spoken to her IN PERSON about the requires, at which time I had told her I don't handle that part and she had to contact the provincial office. Not to mention there was no change as she mentioned. This had always been a requirement. Lastly I told her that I am always available via email, phone and before/after meetings to answer questions and address concerns.

Rather then dropping it, she insists that she had no other information and that she has 'spoken to other parents' who agree with her. Really?!? Well then why the f**k doesn't anyone say something to me? I'm not a mind reader. (Of course that wasn't my response but I wish it could have been. I remained diplomatic.)

In the end, area was able to rush through her second application and she was approved which means she will be attending tonight. My questions is, does she not realize that she will be in close proximity to me for over 4 hours tonight, as well as sleeping close to me, as we are grouped with our units? I am fully prepared to say everything I wrote in my emails to her face if she brings it up, is she prepared to be as rude in person?

I understand being frustrated when things don't go smoothly but when you originally didn't even register your daughter and yourself by the deposit deadline and because I was kind enough to pay personally for additional spots because I KNEW some would be late which allowed you to still get in you think you would be a little more courteous. Not to mention I volunteer my time weekly to create a place for your daughter to meet new friends and come out of her extremely shy self.

Really long story short, I won't quit guiding because of people like this but it doesn't change the fact that I wish I could tell them to go F**K their selves.

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