Monday, May 17, 2010

Our volunteer was a little insulted

One of the advantages of blogging on volunteerism and volunteer management for me is that I have a keen sense of awareness/interest on what others are saying on blogs on the topic!

And on occasion I come across stuff written by someone outside the field of volunteer management but undoubtedly within the field of volunteerism. Sometimes we may come across some views on volunteering that make us a little uncomfortable. And sometimes a little enraged!

I argue that this is good for us. Outside of our field of vision there are many views on volunteering. Many perceptions. Much misunderstanding.

While doing some research today I accidently came across this blog.
This is written by a anesthesiologist ( and physician)
The full blog can be found at

I have just reproduced a little of this article:


"In hospitals we of course have a large number of volunteers and I suppose they do an excellent job. My impression is that most of them, especially the younger ones just stand around looking bored. Now when I look at them, particularly when I look at one of university age, I wonder, what are you applying for and do you really want to be here. We had an excellent volunteer, a retired lady who helped out in the pain clinic for a number of years. She functioned like our ward clerk,did a great job and was really a part of team. One day the nurses approached me and said it was time we got a real ward clerk, I wrote a letter and we got one. I could see on the first days of the ward clerk that our volunteer was a little insulted. She hung on for a year but stopped coming when her husband got sick and now we don't have a volunteer.

I entered the universe of volunteerism a couple of years ago. We had the World Master Games in our city. I heard that they were desperately short of medical volunteers and I was in town so I volunteered. This entailed filling out an on-line form that took me at least an hour (I am not exaggerating). After some time my wife and I were notified that we were to help out with the 10K run. I assumed this was in a medical capacity. In order to be volunteers we had to go downtown and stand in line to get our volunteer package which included our identification/lanyard, a polyester shirt that is now probably being worn somewhere in Africa, a baseball cap that is now in the landfill and a fanny pack (also now in the landfill). Then we had to spend another evening on orientation. It was at this point that I realised that I had volunteered to pass out water and Gatorade at the 10K run although I suspected maybe my medical skills might be required. On the day of the race, we got there early set up our water station mixed up Gatorade and filled paper cups full of water or Gatorade. When the runners came by we offered our cups shouting, "water" or "Gatorade". (Oh by the way anybody who reads this who runs in races, if you don't want a drink just run by, don't slap the cup out of the volunteer's hand.) After the last runner limped by we took down the station and left. Meanwhile a friend of mine who volunteered told me they were desperately short of medical volunteers all week but apparently I'm not good for much besides passing our water. I have not volunteered for anything since"

Perhaps, we in the VM field might like to respond to this blog?

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