Flashback Friday: Why Volunteering is Like the Mafia

[This post is part of our Flashback Friday blog post series for the 2013 summer months. Enjoy!]


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 (staff)

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1 Response to Flashback Friday: Why Volunteering is Like the Mafia

  1. Janet Allcock says:

    My husband coined the phrase “the blue mafia” many (like 25) years ago.

    Janet Allcock

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