Saturday, October 13, 2012

I just quit my volunteer job

...well, not exactly. But I am continuing to learn a lot about volunteering and supporting volunteers, by being a volunteer. I've written here about some of that learning, but here's the latest lesson: if they come, you'd better build it.
I imagine the old saw is true, too, in volunteering: if you build it (opportunities to serve- really serve- people will come and get to work) but in my case, the opposite has happened. Over a year and a half ago I felt a burning call to volunteer with people who dying. Actively dying. Now I'm here in volunteering purgatory, doing something I don't feel called to, to try and get to the point where I can finally be trained (!) to do that thing that I do feel called to. That is, in order to be trained to do vigil work, I had to do 9 weeks of training, followed by 6 months of another kind of volunteering, and after that they'd train me to do vigils. But, at our last volunteer support meeting, the coordinator mentioned that she was pretty sure a training for vigils would be coming up, but that they'd actually never done that before, and she wasn't at all sure how the whole vigil-ing thing would work, but they were working on it, and to hang in there.
I was willing to do the training, and it was good, and worth my time, and I was willing to do the time volunteering dying (but not actively dying) people. Visiting dying people, as it turns out, is the same thing as visiting living people. I'm not bad at it, but it is not something I feel very suited to. My introvert-self kind of dreads trying to make conversation for an hour, or two, and then is exhausted afterward. I've met some lovely people and it's all been nice, but it's not for me.
And when the coordinator confessed that what I had signed on for, well, didn't exist, I felt a little used. It's the old bait-and-switch. I understand her wanting to sign on volunteers whenever they come forward, and I understand the point of visiting people in preparation for vigiling, except, I've been visiting people for years. I've got it down, I think... I don't need 6 months more of it to get me ready for doing something very different.
I'm not sure how I wish it had all been handled. Should the coordinator, after I contacted her initially, said "well, we don't do that yet, but I will get started and call you when we've got it up and running"? Well, yeah! I might have waited just as long as I am now, but not filling the time with busywork to fulfill their requirements. Or, I might have contacted a hospital nearby and offered to start a vigiling ministry with them. Maybe we'd be doing vigils by now, as a church.
Anyway, I wrote to the coordinator, explained that it's been a really long time and I'm not doing what I felt called to, and that I wouldn't like to take on another (relatively) long-term patient. She asked me to stay tuned, but granted my request to step out of ongoing visits. We'll see where this goes. But in the meantime, I want to remember as a volunteer coordinator that if they come, I'd better get to work building.

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