Why Volunteering is like the Mafia

Volunteering is many things – selfless, altruistic, but like the mafia? Yeah, it kind of is. Because as a Dad commented to me at Sparks the other night, “Volunteering is like the mafia – once you’re in, you can’t get out.”

Just think about it. When you’re dropping your mini-David Beckham off at soccer, checking out the bake sale at your daughter’s school or picking up your eldest from Pathfinder camp, don’t you see the same 12 volunteers at every event? Those hard-core volunteers are everywhere. It seems there’s nothing they don’t help with. But why aren’t more people stepping up to the plate?

At my kids’ school, we’re trying to figure out how to run our annual bike rodeo now that our regular volunteer organizer has decided to take a well-deserved break from running the event. So there we are sitting around our parent council meeting, a group of already over-committed parents and volunteers, asking who might like to run the event. But that’s the problem – everyone at the meeting is already over-committed, already volunteering up to the wazoo.  Is it really fair to ask one of them to add another item to their volunteering to-do list?

Canadians volunteered nearly 2.1 billion hours in 2010, the equivalent of nearly 1.1 million full-time jobs. And I’d venture to guess that at least 1 billion of those hours came from the same 12 people who you always see volunteering in your community. These volunteers are great at what they do – they’re super organized, know how to get things done and really just want to make our neighbourhoods the kinds of places where we all want to live.

So back to that mafia analogy. Once you start volunteering, it’s hard to stop. And the reason is simple, really:

Volunteering. Is. So. Addictive.

Once you start lending a hand in your community, you start meeting all sorts of great people, and you really end up having way more fun than should possibly be legal. Yes, you’re doing good deeds, pitching in and all that good stuff – but selfishly, you know you love it. And sure, it would be nice if more people could help out the bake sale/Girl Guide camp/bike rodeo. But maybe we just need to let them in on our little secret – that volunteering is so fun you may never want to stop.

By Mary, GGC staff

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7 Responses to Why Volunteering is like the Mafia

  1. Bri - 111th London Brownies, 1st Ontario Lone Brownies, 1st London Trex, Community Guider… says:

    Well ain’t that the truth!! Well spoken, Mary!

  2. Allison says:

    A mutual GGC friend of ours gave us mugs for our wedding shower that said “stop me before I volunteer again”. My wife is finishing off her DC term and I finished off a Camp Advisor term in February. Between the two of us we have 35 years of Guiding experience. Time for a break!! 😀

    • Kirky says:

      Haha, I saw the beginning of this comment without seeing your name and thought, “Wow, small world!” Nope, the online GGC community is also like a mafia – always the same 12 people.

      • libelinda says:

        So true, my coastal online friends. Being an AC feels like a full-time job, not necessarily for time, but for the amount of processing power it takes out of your brain. But, it’s hard to let it drop. Yep, I’m in the mafia and I can’t get out.

      • Allison says:

        But B did get out (sorry, won’t let me reply to Belinda!).

        And oh gosh, it really is the same 12 people again, isn’t it.

        PS, Kirky we use those mugs almost every day, so I think fuzzy things about you and Bagel. 😀

  3. Kathryn says:

    Well said.

    I have been volunteering for years and I have met so many great people and made some friendships by volunteering for different organizations. My greatest reward was that I met my husband through volunteering and whenever we possible we love to tell people our story of how we met.

  4. Testify! This is SO true. It’s the same thing at our church, too. 10% of the people do 90% of the work. I think that the other difficulty is that we tend to ask the same people. Either it’s their personality or their skill set, but whatever the reason, we ask the same old, same old. We all need to start thinking, and looking, outside the box, so that other people are given a chance to lead, grow, and learn. We won’t be here forever 🙂

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