Are You one of the FOUR?

Dear Friends,

I’ve been thinking about the whole realm of volunteering.  My thoughts started when I received a phone call from my Friend, who needed to borrow a canopy for the Garlic Festival–it will probably rain.

My Friend is the “backbone” of volunteering efforts.  She just finished helping to build and manage a float in our local Memorial Day Parade.  Now she is running the DAR booth at our local Garlic Festival.  The day after her garlic duties are completed, she is in charge of pulling together a group of us to provide for our annual Music Festival.  And those are only some of her efforts.  Every week she attends meetings, goes to lunches, has tea, sends emails, makes phone calls, helps drive, shop, and generally be available for those in need.  She has grown kids with an assortment of grandchildren.  She sends care packages and plans trips.  She is amazing.

And then she said this, “Well, face it.  In any organization, there are only four people who actually get things done.”

English: Towersey music festival Every year, t...

English: Towersey music festival Every year, the village of Towersey hosts a folk music festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My question is: when I join an organization, do I plan to be one of the FOUR?  And if I do become part of the FOUR, when do I exert my ability to say, “NO, THANKS.”  Isn’t this how burn-out occurs?  Isn’t this when ill feelings begin to rise, when a few do all the heavy lifting for others?

And if I am part of the FOUR, do I try to be part of a team or do I need to be in charge (because, again, it is just plain easier to do it myself than to try to rely upon others, right?).  Do I listen to others, or have I been doing this for so long that deviating from my formula just won’t work?  Do the new volunteers cause me more problems than help me?  Now, exactly, why am I doing this?

I wonder, does my neediness, my type A, my obsessive-compulsive, my ADHD, my fix-it, my earth mother, my ego all need to be one of the FOUR?  Or am I just a nice lady who thinks everyone ought to pitch in and help out?

Whatever the reason for being a FOUR or not being a FOUR, I think it would behoove me to think of the fable “STONE SOUP” and try to put things into perspective.

Just some thoughts.  Be gentle with yourself.





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5 Responses to Are You one of the FOUR?

  1. Barb! How true, how true! Our homeschool group consists of about 15 families, right now. Of those only about five of us are helping organize anything! It would be nice for more people to step up, but it always seems difficult for them. Over the years I have had to learn compassion. Not everyone has the ability to help physically. We need to find creative ways that they might be involved while we do the leg work. Perhaps they can make calls or contribute financially. It has also taught me to be patient, some are still learning and their time will come. Right now I AM part of the four (or five in my case), but I have had to learn there are still times to say “No” and times to say maybe. I have come to the realization though that while my kids are young I am going to remain part of the four so that they benefit from our hard work. I pray that this remains true for a long time. That I might be an example to other young moms who will make an effort to find the time to be the next four.

    • dearfriends says:

      Hello Christina,
      Yes, I think being a volunteer requires a lot of patience and trying to “think outside of the box.” Perhaps folks who do the “heavy lifting” might learn to use the phrase, “I need . . .” Like parenting, when I say for to my child, “I need for you to . . .”–the child understands the gravity of the need and almost always complies. Will this request be helpful to the growing of community when volunteering? I think I’m learning that it is something to use when I think I can’t say “No,” but the NEED is still there. Let me know. Blessings, Barb

  2. itssrijana says:

    so far i have never volunteered in an official way but helped many daily

    • dearfriends says:

      What a good role model–to volunteer where needed. I would guess your turn will come for volunteering in a more formal way, feeling responsible for the completion of a project. And then one thing leads to another and suddenly you are part of FOUR–and then the questions of “do it myself” vs. “asking for help” will arise. Through of it, please Take care of you. Blessings–Barb

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