It is one of the greatest laments of Volunteer Services and Wonderful Lady that volunteer work is the bug zapper glow for society's dumbest, cheapest and most self centered. The "Looks Good On A Resume" crowd is largely composed of no-shows and abandoners; so much so that it serves as a huge ass filter and money sump.
We have paperwork for you to fill out; more than just an application. We have to do a background check. WE PAY FOR THAT! If there's a hit, we cannot take you on. Yes, you have to have a social security number too.
Then there's an interview. It's light, easy, and not at all necessary to drum up your list of job-interview questions. We ask how you heard about us. We ask what makes you interested in volunteering. We tell you a bit about what is expected before you can volunteer full time, and go page by page of what we need to have you fill out. That's it. We can't make it any more painless. Boring? Can be. Tedious? Sure. But you came to US. Normally that implies that you are willing to do what needs to be done.
Then, if most of the paperwork comes back as complete, we set up an orientation. This is the last of the paperwork that must be completed, and you have a chance to bring in the stuff you took home to complete. You get a tour of the campus, and we tell you about the departments. You give us your availability and we place you in the department you asked for if we can.
In a perfect world, this is awesome beyond words and takes only a few weeks. Most of that is waiting on an interview or orientation to be scheduled. One Orientation a month, Interviews every Tuesday and Thursday at 2pm. Some flexibility allowed.
In reality, most of the people don't complete the paperwork, and we try to contact them to get it complete. Seriously, we're one thing short. Get that TB skin test done. We told you their hours. We gave you a sheet of paper in your packet. YOU SIGNED A SHEET SAYING YOU READ AND UNDERSTOOD EVERYTHING WE GAVE YOU.
We need the second reference. Yes that reference has to live in the USA...and understand English... the form only comes in one language. YES WE SENT IT! It came back as Return To Sender. NO WE WILL NOT CALL THEM TO GET THEIR NEW ADDRESS! It's your reference, you are responsible for giving us up-to-date information.
All right, you came to the interview. You got everything filled out. You did the orientation. You showed up to your first day of volunteering... and we never heard from you again. What part of "minimum two days a month for six months" did you not understand? We have departments that work on weekends. We schedule you around YOUR availability. If you come every other Tuesday for a 3-4 hour shift, you are golden. Why did you disappear? Why do you not respond to our calls? Turning in your badge and saying "oh I got a job" or "oh, I've started school," leaves no hard feelings because we know life intrudes. Why jump through every hoop, fill out every piece of paper, and then vanish?
We need a minimum of 100 hours from you before we write a reference letter. We also need a month to get everything together. Why? Because believe it or not, there is one person doing enough work for three full time people. There are a lot more immediate things to do than a letter.
You completed 1 hour of interview, 4 hours orientation, and you need a letter of recommendation by next week, and it's Friday!? Ahahaha!
Meetings. Surprise visits from the boss/surveyors/health code regulators. Other new volunteers with paperwork to process. A brand new manager of the gift shop that needs to be trained. Complaints of a volunteer breaking the rules. Some psychotic mother who calls every fifteen minutes demanding to know why X hasn't been done on precious boopsie's paperwork yet. Because it's precious boopsie's fucking job to do it himself, and the background check takes 3-4 days. You submitted it yesterday! No it won't be done yet when you call in an hour... or tomorrow morning at 7am sharp when the office isn't even open yet. Then there's 24 bajillian phone calls asking our office hours. Bitch, you heard the recorded message telling you that before we even picked up the phone.
You know all that shit you filled out? I have to have every piece, and I have to put it into the computer, because Wonderful Lady is handling people who walk through the door with a problem. The door doesn't close on the ass of one person before the next opens it with something of their own.
You know that packet of paperwork you had to fill out? I have to copy the sheets onto the colored paper, put them in order and staple them together. They have to be ready for the next batch of idiots who only partially complete it, then whine about not getting calls saying when they can start.
You know that uniform we give you to wear while you're with us? I have to take Wonderful Lady's keys, take you to the closet in the room across the hall and make sure you get one that fits. She can't do it, because her boss just called with a question or had sent an email and didn't get an immediate response. (Seriously, if she sent an email, it can wait. She shouldn't send an email and then call on the phone to discuss it 30 seconds later...)
You know the confidentiality agreement you and 350 other people filled out at the beginning of the year? A new one is coming out for next year. Everyone who completes it has to have it in their files if they want to volunteer. And since Wonderful Lady is cross campus, she-- and I-- only work two days a week at this campus. So it kinda takes a while (read, months) to get it done.
You know those wheelchairs that are supposed to be available for patients who can't walk a friggin quarter of a mile to the right department due to their health? Yeah they're all missing, their GPS battery is dead and nurses in departments are arguing with volunteers who try to retrieve them, claiming that they belong to the department, not the lobby. The department already has wheelchairs of their own, specially designated. The nurses are just being greedy. The caregivers for the poor patient who can't walk are furious, and so are we. Wonderful Lady has to take care of that personally, because volunteers don't have the authority to call the nurse a liar, even if the identification numbers on the chairs back them up.
Need I go on?
In short, Volunteer Hell is an unpaid JOB. We need just a smidgen of professionalism and maturity from volunteers who want something shiny for their resume. We don't have the time to hold the hands of 20 people per interview, and most of those disappear before the minimum requirements for your resume are even reached.
May all your customers, and volunteers, be competent adults,