Volunteers: Super Heroes in Disguise
Maintaining a Hero's Anonymity
For leaders of volunteer groups, maintaining the anonymity of individual members of the group should be a top priority (if someone is there to make a name for themselves, they should be made a leader), however there are ways to document volunteer work without revealing individuals.
Many government and grant agencies are concerned with service hours rather than demographics of the groups, and even those who want demographics should be content with simple numbers. Keep good records of the number of hours served, and if needed some general demographics (making sure no specific names appear in the documentation). With these numbers most grant and government agencies will be satisfied and can be approached for help with funding and equipment.
What are two things most super heroes have in common? They spend time helping others using their skills, abilities and experience, and they go to great lengths to keep their anonymity. Now lets look at some of the things volunteers do. They spend time helping others in the community, and many of them go to great lengths to keep their anonymity. So how do we honor or even recognize these heroes? Most volunteers would prefer you not answer that one.
The amount of volunteer service performed by various groups, and individuals is very likely under reported, and with good reason. True heroes are traditionally reluctant to give up their anonymity, sometimes to their detriment. In the case of groups, such figures, if accurately presented to the appropriate officials, could go a long way to giving those groups the means to do more. Fortunately there is no law that says there have to be names associated with the numbers.
Want to join the crowd of Super-heroes? Chances are you may already be among the ranks. Are you active in a Parent Teacher organization? Do you help at church (teach a class, clean or maintain the building)? Do you serve in the leadership of a club or organization? If so, Thank You!
For those still searching, Habitat for Humanity, Animal Shelters, Humane Societies and the many other clubs and non-profits can always use volunteers. But service need not be limited to physical work. There are opportunities to perform in music and theater as well. Building the culture of a community can be just as rewarding as other forms of volunteering.
Leading one of these volunteer organizations can be a struggle, as volunteers may be hard to come by, or have other commitments that interfere with the desired services. Notice that many super-heroes are single, and independently wealthy relieving them of many of the restraints the rest of us have to deal with. The reality for most volunteers is that they are juggling work, and family relationships in addition to their volunteer work. That said leading a volunteer organization can be rewarding if patience and time are well managed. A few hints for leaders: first, make sure to communicate exactly what needs to happen, and be willing to delegate. One person generally can not do it all. Next, be extremely patient with volunteers who likely have limited time and resources. Finally when needed (and possible) provide all of the resources your volunteers need to serve. It’s no fun if you don’t have the right tools.
For volunteers here are a few suggestions that will help those in charge as well. First, be willing to lead. The clubs and PTA groups I have served with in the past, regularly struggle to find people who will lead. Even taking the lead of one project will help. Next, understand that leaders have lives too, and that they are relying on you to help them fulfill the responsibilities or assignments they have. And finally, when you commit to help, make sure you are there to help. Don’t leave the others in your group hanging.
You needn’t put on your super hero suit to be a hero to those in need of volunteer service. Just be willing to give a bit of your spare time. The rewards will be priceless.