Great volunteers make commitments to participate when they are sure that they can be available for the entire time. Volunteer leaders should not feel like sheep dogs, searchingÂ andÂ gathering volunteers repeatedly and then not letting them escape before planned.
In my personal life, IÂ tend toÂ run lateÂ when I’m rushing, tryingÂ to do too much in too little time.Â Yet, I manage to pull myself together when otherÂ people are depending on me.Â Despite their good intentions, late volunteers, including PMDÂ project managers andÂ volunteers who depart early, inconvenience countlessÂ others whoÂ they claim to want to help.
Each timeÂ I schedule aÂ PMD project from time A to time B, I depend on all people who sign upÂ to commit to the entireÂ duration in orderÂ to complete all of the planned tasks. (And forÂ PMD’s volunteer project managers, this also means arriving earlier at a set time, cleaning up, and returning the PMD backpack and reports at a set time.) I don’t “pad” the starting and ending times, so the times advertised are the real starting and ending times plannedÂ to complete all ofÂ the needed tasks.
PMD projects haveÂ experienced chronic volunteer lateness this autumn.Â At last Saturday’s Family Fun Day in Cambridge City Hall, half of the group failed toÂ check inÂ 9:45-9:55 as directed so that orientation and assignments could begin at 10 AM. We wereÂ hugely understaffed, and ourÂ stressed-out project manager was understandably in crisis mode and calling absentees. Some late volunteersÂ eventually arrived at 10:30 AM, but that was in the midst ofÂ many families (since the eventÂ itselfÂ wasÂ 10:30-3:00). Besides wreaking chaos with the staffing of literacy activities, latecomersÂ missed important orientation and the opportunity to hear from and question a representative of the Cambridge Family Literacy Collaborative, which spearheads this annual event.
While public transit can sometimes be blamed (like Red Line busses in gridlock this past weekend or legendary blizzards that caused people to arriveÂ as much as twoÂ hours late),Â PMD dependsÂ on responsible participants planning ahead for travel, parking, and even getting lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood.Â PMD always provides site addresses, maps, and directions in advance, which is no small feat forÂ Greater Boston neighborhoods.
Please don’t schedule your next activity so close to the end ofÂ a PMD project that you need to leave the PMD project early in order to get to your next activity. Volunteers departing before the advertised ending time, before theÂ project manager concludes the day,Â has become another problem.Â UnlessÂ one becomes ill, itÂ is unfair to leave the rest of the group toÂ finish and to clean up, and very disrespectful to the recipient charities and volunteer project managers who count on everyone so thatÂ the whole groupÂ canÂ reflect and concludeÂ theÂ project together.