V is for Volunteer

Memphis has no shortage of opportunities for the dedicated community member — the vast majority of it unpaid or compensated at a low rate. I’ve burned out a bit over the couple months, even as I don’t feel like I’ve done enough.

I love celebrating my neighborhood, but today I want to vent for minute. My image above is of our neighborhood Greenline, featuring an art project, The Blue Kids, completed well before we moved in by a Rhodes College art class. They’re a target for vandalism.

Dedicated volunteers, but especially a wonderful local artist, have given hours of uncompensated time and probably a thousand dollars towards repairing them over and over again. The volunteer committee removed one of the blue kids a few months back after they determined he was too damaged to sensibly repair. I’ve helped out twice with repairing the kids — very little in comparison to others.

The number of people I’d never seen help out who came out of the wood work to complain about how the repairs and removal went down…..

Hoot with umbrella

Above is an old picture of Hoot at the station house. The Greenline, again, is a volunteer run organization. Josh didn’t do the most work, but still he did a tremendous amount of work for the ArtWalk this weekend, planning the menu and cooking food, managing to coordinate that with our Passover planning, which was frankly amazing since he was also working on book proofs. I’m sure the other volunteers also had family and work obligations to manage.

It’s a great event. Then this morning a parent at school told me, “They really need to do a better job organizing and promoting for it. There were too many other events this weekend.” The event happens the same weekend every year. They promoted it on Facebook, on Nextdoor, and with giant signs dug at several intersections.

It was a successful event.

The past few months, every time we organized a political event, every time I ran a phone bank, someone had a bit of advice for me.

The complaints of course don’t take away from an events or organization’s successes, and by no means does the complaining dominate my volunteer experiences. Nor do I think all advice is obnoxious.But the assumption that volunteers should always be doing more or that a person who actually isn’t giving time would do it better, really gets to me sometimes.

If only the people advising a volunteer who hasn’t asked for their thoughts would jump in and help instead of talking smack.


2 thoughts on “V is for Volunteer

  1. !! I’ve wondered what those blue mounds are along the roadway link from North Parkway to Cleveland.
    Thank you to your family for their many community activities !!


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