June 28, 2011
Today is “why volunteer,blog action day.” Organized by Agility Nerd Steve Schwarz, who was motivated to motivate all of us, by the discussions on the Clean Run List regarding the agility volunteer dilemma.
I put off writing today because I just got home from World Team practice which was held in Seattle at a beautiful donated facility, It’s a Dogs World, owned by Kathy Wendt. Team practice was staffed over three days by no less than 20 volunteers, how cool was that? I have been surrounded by volunteers, every one of whom gave up something to help the team. Kathy gave up making income for three days in her facility and the workers gave up competitions, and play time with their own dogs and family. I will just bet these folks volunteer at local trials too, it is in their giving nature.
Photo of some of our volunteers by another volunteer, Derede Arthur.
I am not always an active volunteer at every single AKC or USDAA trial I attend. I try to work at minimum a class every day, sometimes I do lots more than that and every once in a while I don’t work at all. (I get busy catching up with work on the computer or playing with my dogs:)
I volunteer when and where I am able. I chair the largest USDAA trial on the west coast, which until the Cynosport Games moved east, was the largest USDAA trial in the country outside of the Games. I am on our local agility club’s board, and have been on lots of club committees. I try to do my part where I can, and working for our club outside of trials by being on the Board and chairing a trial has always been very important to me.
I think we have some great volunteerism going on in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live and compete. We have a huge club of about 300! I just wish that more of them would actually participate by helping at trials. Don’t get me wrong, I love the membership dues they pay annually to be part of our club:) and if they don’t have the time to come and help, I am sad but understand.
The Bay Team, is mostly run by one Type-A (Karey Krauter) and one totally dedicated President (Kathy Wheelock), with a small core group of people, with another 20 or so being extremely active volunteers not just at our trials, but at every local trial I attend. I am sure this is pretty much like every other club in the country, a handful of dedicated folks do most of the work both behind the scenes as well as at the trials.
Our club is pretty generous. If you don’t run a dog and you work all day, you get a $50 gift cert which can be used at all the local trainers classes, (like ours here at power paws) or used for local show entries or at all the vendors at the trial. And the local clubs all accept the certs for entries at their trials too. Workers at almost all the local trials get free lunches and raffle tickets for each class worked and the raffle folks get some pretty cool stuff. The vendors all donate an item each day and our club spends $300.oo a day on purchased goodies as well. Each time you work a class you get raffle tickets and everyone wants them because of the great stuff our Raffle Czar Marty puts together.
Even with all this cool stuff, we still have a hard time staffing shows at times. In some ways it sort of feels wrong to pay workers, we want them to volunteer, not to stand in line to be paid, but I don’t think many of the workers would sign up to work without some kinds of perks. I think we long ago passed a point where people will work for nothing at our local trials.
I don’t have the answer and it isn’t from lack of conversation with club members and the board. At some of our upcoming trials we are now asking entrants to be assigned to one class a weekend or they need to “opt out” by signing a spot on the entry. Will we have an uprising, I dunno. I do wish we could go back to straight volunteerism like the “good old days”.
As a board member I spend countless hours working for our club for no pay, no free entries, de nada. Our board has consistently over the years voted NOT to take any benefit for our work, if we want to foster volunteerism, then we need to volunteer ourselves, so we do. I sometimes feel stretched to the limit helping with our club, and I am going to take the next term off starting in January, but I assume I will be back again when I catch my breath.
While we at The Bay Team (the best USDAA club in the whole country) really try to treat those who attend our trials as customers, and we throw a damn good trial, we will always still have room to improve, and motivating and rewarding volunteers is at the top of our to do list. If you want to read a whole lot of other blogs about volunteerism and of course many other cool things, go to Steve’s blog http://agilitynerd.com/blog.
I hope all of you reading this volunteer when you are able, and encourage your friends and students to do so as well.
PS: Scoop is pretty good but the fungus is not gone. The BIG snurfling went away for a while, but the little snurfling has returned so I assume he needs to have another one of those horrid treatments. Poor Scoobie. We are playing at a little bit of agilty everyday but I think it will be a while before we compete again:(
pps: wordpress has been fighting me with formatting this blog for an hour, now I give up, it may look funky, and maybe I can fix it tomorrow.