I wrote a recent article on Boom Days for Discover magazine, a publication of Arkansas Valley Publishing, as is the Herald Democrat. Since the festival has been around for so many years, I asked current president Dave TenEyck what might be the biggest detriment to its continuing in the future.
He named two things: the increasing cost of insurance and the lack of volunteers.
Both of these seem to be issues facing other volunteer organizations in the community. Increased insurance premiums are being felt by many of those who sponsor events, especially events where someone could get hurt.
Remember the “celebrity” burro race during Boom Days, when anyone who wanted to could have a run up and down Harrison Avenue with a burro? I recall a few 12-year-olds running while wearing flip-flops. Fortunately this event has come and gone without any major repercussions.
The lack of volunteers is also something most organizations are facing. On both the national and local level it can be attributed to less time on the part of potential volunteers due to a variety of reasons, all understandable.
We know it is happening here because, as one example, we hear complaints from various groups about how board members don’t show up for meetings. Or how they don’t actually volunteer beyond being on the board.
Kind of like in high school when everyone was looking for activities to list after their names in the yearbook to impress college recruiters. In many cases, they did give time and energy to the organization. But sometimes, not so much.
As people grow older, it’s nice to have a listing of important activities for job resumes. Or if you want to run for office. And when people get even older, perhaps for their obituaries? Maybe.
Certain people volunteer all the time and their efforts benefit the community in many ways. In fact, most communities don’t thrive without a willing and able volunteer force.
But with the ranks of volunteers dwindling, perhaps someone with more expertise in this topic needs to give it some thought.
Are organizations treating their volunteers well? Are their efforts being acknowledged? Or does the organization find them a necessary evil that must be tolerated until it someday goes away? Some groups of volunteers may be more trouble than they’re worth. (Like most things, this is in the eyes of the beholder.)
If you’re a volunteer, are you saying yes to too many organizations without considering if you really have the time to put in? No one should volunteer unless they have a passion for what the organization is doing. Even if there is no outward show of thanks, there is the satisfaction of working toward something that matters to you.
If you find yourself too enmeshed in a variety of organizations, take a close look and extract yourself from those which are not satisfying. The organizations you’re leaving won’t suffer from losing what is just a name on a list. The ones you choose to actively support will thrive.