Brace yourself. I'm about to vent.
A few weeks ago we had THE big fundraiser for our local elementary schools. Unfortunately, Colorado has one of the worst school funding systems in the country and we're constantly struggling to make up the shortfall between what the government provides (of course, this is the story everywhere, I know) and what kids need in the classroom.
Anyway, this huge fundraiser we have is very volunteer intensive. The money raised is divided up amongst all of the elementary schools. Each school is assigned a certain number of volunteer positions to fill. If the school doesn't fill its positions, it doesn't get an equal share of the money.
This year, I am serving on the PTA board as secretary. I figured I'd go and take notes and that would be my commitment.
I figure if I spent as much time working for pay as I now do volunteering for stuff at the school, I'd be a millionaire in just these few short weeks since school started.
So one of my jobs as a member of the PTA board is to help staff a PTA table at various school events--sort of a "what is the PTA and what do we do" type of thing.
Great. Afterall, remember, I have an MBA in the field of common sense (marketing), so this is right up my alley.
So a few days before the big fundraiser, our school had its back to school night. We were trying to sign people up to volunteer at the fundraiser. We were in dire straights. Our volunteer sign up sheets were originally due the day before, but we hadn't filled our spots. We weren't going to get an equal share of the proceeds from the event. We were desperate. We begged for an extension to get volunteers since our back to school night fell on an unusually late date this year.
Let me say a few things here--first, we are the biggest elementary school in the district. In fact, only the high schools have more students. It is totally ridiculous that we didn't fill these volunteer spots right away. And can I just say, it's not like we're asking for a limb or the scalp of someone's youngest child--these volunteer positions are doing things like running games, baking things for a bake sale, or directing traffic in the parking lot (a very dusty job that I ended up volunteering Eamonn for to fill the spots) for, at the most, one hour during the fundraiser. You've got the whole rest of the day to hang with your family.
So, there I was, along with a few other dedicated PTA members, standing at this table on back to school night, calling out to people to help volunteer because we weren't going to get the money we need to run our school if we didn't fill our spots.
How do you think that went? Not well, in case you're wondering.
I couldn't believe it. People looked the other way when we asked for help. Literally would not make eye contact and walked on by. This is a small town, by the way, so I find that totally bizarre. Hello! It's not like I don't know who you are and where you live! One person actually said to me, "I don't want to." Um, and I do? I WANT to spend several hours of my Sunday doing this? No. I don't WANT to. I do it because we all NEED to whether we like it or not.
And I've been on a tear ever since, wondering what the hell is wrong with people. It seems like no one wants to volunteer to help out and do things anymore. At PTA, it's the same 10 - 15 people who pull the load for everyone over and over again and so then those 10 - 15 people end up in volunteer burnout and you can't even get them anymore because they're so fried. And I get it. I'm one of them. I'm over the whole volunteer thing and it's only mid-October. But not volunteering is not an option.
In the end, we did fill our spots--barely. I had to sign up for three different jobs that day and I volunteered Eamonn without his prior knowledge. But the whole thing has left me with a bad taste in my mouth about the willingness of parents to get involved in schools (which is HUGE) and why a few have to pull the load for the masses.
And you know what, I totally don't buy the "I work full time, I can't volunteer at the school" argument. We all work in some way or another and there are a million ways to be involved at school that don't required hours and hours of time.
We're all busy, we all want to spend time with our families, but if we would all pitch in just a little and share the load, it would be so much better. What's that saying? Many hands make light work? We want top notch education for our kids, but it doesn't come for free. Are we willing to work for it?
But then, I realize I'm preaching to the choir once again. Thanks for listening to me rant. I just got an e-mail asking me to make food for teachers this week. Also on the e-mail? The same 15 people who are always on it. GAH!