Who Needs Them?
by Victor De'Prey
Who Needs Them?
by Victor De'Prey
BUILDING A BETTER COMMUNITY
If you live in a large
city you've no doubt experienced the occasional traffic light outage
at an intersection. And everyone once in a while you'll see someone
other than a peace officer at the intersection risking his or her
life directing traffic.
Why, do you ask? Because
that person acknowledges the responsibility it takes to build and
maintain a community. Instead of letting someone else do it, they've
taken a step forward to improve the quality of life they want others
to enjoy, even if only for a few minutes. That volunteer accepts
the challenge to be a contributing member of an extended family.
During any of the many
floods certain regions of our country are prone to experience, we
always see lines of people filling and stacking sandbags to shore
up dikes and levies. We also see strangers helping another stranger
sandbag a house or a business; a man in a powered boat risks his
life to rescue a dog or cat from a roof top Who are these strangers?
They are volunteers who see the need to contribute to their community.
While out there helping others these volunteers are often served
by another group of volunteers, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Lions
Clubs, Kiwanians, Rotarians, and the many other organized volunteer
groups, all part of a large group of people dedicated to helping
City Halls and city
councils may run and manage our cities and towns but it is the volunteers
who organize the bake sales, clean graffiti, help little old ladies
cross streets and put on the school play that make it a community.
Pssst, hey buddy, wanna
get a warm fuzzy feeling all over? Be a volunteer!
Ok, you've got a need
to organize an event and can't afford to pay anyone to staff it.
Or, your non-profit group has to grow in order to provide more free
services (more hands, more projects to accomplish). Where/how do
you find fresh faces with fresh ideas to accomplish your goals?
Volunteers are waiting
to be asked to volunteer almost everywhere you look. All you need
to do is ask.
Many folks are shy or
conservative and don't want to appear brash or pushy so they don't
often jump up and down waiving an "I'm a professional volunteer"
sign to get your attention. They're usually sitting next to you
in church, at a lunch counter, on a bus (or queuing up). You might
meet a stranger at a seminar, walk into a shop to buy something,
wait at a barber shop for a chair. Wherever you may be, listen to
the thread of conversations, wait to make a contribution, listen
some more and then ask the question you've been waiting to ask,
"Have any of you heard of . . .?", or, "Did you know that . . .?"
Now wait for the responses. There will be someone who asks the kind
of questions you want to hear that indicates an interest in your
volunteer group. Don't ignore the rest of the group, but circle
in on this one person and make sure they know who you are and that
you'd like to talk to them again sometime soon. Unless you're a
professional recruiter or closer, it's almost impossible to convince
a stranger to join your cause on your first meeting. It might take
several conversations before the prospective volunteer will decide
to check you out. In other words, patience and understanding will
eventually help you find a quality volunteer you'll be proud to
So you're not into lunch
counters, bus stops and group meetings. Where else do you go to
find a volunteer? Once again listen, and, look. Look for signs that
someone is a natural volunteer. Look for people that are volunteering
already. I don't mean you should proselytize. But if you see a person
doing something that makes them a contributing member to their community,
ask if he or she is part of an organized group. If not, make a quick
pitch for your cause and listen. Some people are just waiting to
be asked what they're doing and why and will often reveal their
affiliations or their desire to join something.
If you're looking for
"professional volunteers" at the executive level, look no further
than your own company. I know one bank executive whose company pays
his dues to stay involved in one service group and he makes a significant
contribution in time and energy to improve his community. If it's
your job to find a new volunteer that has the leadership capabilities
to eventually ascend to high office within your volunteer group,
there are many executives on the golf course who could spare a few
hours a month to further your causes. Incidentally, if you've never
seen a high-powered executive get a warm and fuzzy feeling in public,
it's one of those Kodak moments they'll never forget.
If you've been keeping
a personal contact manager I'm sure there's at least one contact
in your databank that will listen and become a volunteer if given
an opportunity and exposed to your offer.
Walk into any small
shop and ask the owner if he supports your program. Listen. Ask
them to contribute or participate towards your next function or
fund-raising event. After the event, present them with a thank you
plaque and an invitation to become an honorary member of your club;
it won't be long before they're actively involved and asking fellow
merchants for their help. Volunteerism is contagious.
Place a conservative
advertisement in your local paper asking people to come forward
for more information about your group and your services. You'll
be amazed at what the general public doesn't know about you. Even
in a small communty with an active Lions Club I was continually
surprised when strangers asked me, "what do Lions do?" Do you know
what Rotarians or the Knights of Columbus do?
Recruiting a good volunteer
is not an overnight project. It takes time but the final result
is that you'll be building a better, stronger organization capable
of doing the things your charter says your capable of doing.
Volunteers are special
people looking for special occasions to serve special people.
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Victor De'Prey is a self-made
entrepreneur. Retired from the U. S. Navy since 1975, he's been
involved in several business ventures, has been up and down the
economic ladder a few times and is now semi-retired. He's been volunteering
for stuff most of his mature life, including his 20-year voluntary
stint in the Navy. He is currently a member-at-large from the Waldport
(Oregon) Lions Club and continues to serve the community of Lions
whenever possible. For the finest autoresponders on the net (and
the best bargains, too), send any e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit his web site, http://ourlist.net/a2020/