Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Say what?

I picked up a magazine the other day - one of those thick glossy things that is supposed to help you make yourself and your home beautiful. As it is the new year, there was a special section for readers to profess what they are not going to do this year. I read blurb after blurb about how women are going to say no, refuse to over-commit themselves, pare back on obligations to others.

I tossed the magazine aside to read through a school packet. In it, I found the volunteer schedule for one of my projects. My volunteer time has been more than doubled because of a lack of volunteers. A little while later, I took the kids to fish fry for dinner. We walked past a volunteer begging table filled with page after page of completely empty sign-up sheets.

I got curious, so I did a little research. In my city, the average volunteer hours per resident is under 40 hours per year. The average volunteer rate is around 30%. If my math is correct, that means that the actual volunteers are donating around 2.4 hours per week. Even assuming that there is a large variance in number of hours volunteered (ie, some people are spending one hour a year and others are spending 300+ hours per year), I fail to see how we women are really so over-extended that we should be writing letters about our need to pare back our obligations.

Women my age are busy, that is true. We have many family obligations. But at the same time, I know that I don't have so many obligations that I can't work a little harder to make the world a better place. Frankly, I don't think I'm significantly lazier or harder working than the rest of the population. If I have time to read a magazine about how overextended I must be, then I probably have time to help mop a floor after a fish fry.


Jen said...

I totally agree! And that said, can I sign you up to work a Komen event in Central CA when I'm the Volunteer Chair? =)

Christy said...

If you pay for my flight, you betcha.

Mary Witzl said...

Ooh, pay for my flight and I'll come too!

I do agree with you, but one year I got so over-committed that I'd have done anything to get out of some of the things I'd gotten myself into. (Christian Aid coffee morning and collecting, PTA bake sale, ActionAid fund-raising, school book sale, etc.) And I do believe if anyone asked me to volunteer right now, I'd burst into tears. Now, I have a bored 17-year-old who is rattling around the house with nothing to do -- I'd volunteer her time in a heartbeat!

Christy said...

I have noticed, Mary, that service tends to be kind of feast or famine. I'll have no obligations for weeks and then have to commit 10 hours in two days.

Katie Alender said...

I love the point you make, Christy.