Call for Volunteers (Weekend Assignment #280)

This week, Karen has called for volunteers to discuss volunteering:

Weekend Assignment #280: Have you ever been actively involved in a campaign or a cause, to the point of doing more than just donating or voting? Tell us about the phone calls, the food drive, the charity walk or other civic-minded work you’ve done, if any. And if you’ve never done this sort of thing, why not? (It’s okay if you haven’t – I’m just interested in the reasons.)

Extra Credit: Do you have a favorite charity? Which one?

I sometimes like to think that the fact I’ve spent most of my career in the non-profit sector is a form of civic-mindedness in itself. One way to compensate for the essential soullessness of bean-counting for a living is to count the beans of organizations that serve a greater good, I guess. I felt the most strongly about this when I worked for the Memphis Zoo, where my work helped quantify how well it was accomplishing its missions of education and conservation, and I remained a paying member of the Zoological Society even after I’d left the city.

Aside from that, I’ve posted here before about my annual participation in the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk. I’ll be continuing that tradition this fall, joining my sister and our families in walking and fund-raising to combat the disease that took our mom from us ten years ago this October (although it began many years before that).

Since I’ve been active online during the last couple of years, I’ve sometimes volunteered for activities within my blogging communities, but those really aren’t quite what Karen is asking about in this Weekend Assignment question. I’m not sure I’d volunteer to do some of the things she talked about in her own response to this question…including volunteering to take over the Weekend Assignment itself from its founder, John Scalzi, over a year and a half ago.

I didn’t discover the Assignments or begin participating in them until Karen took them over at the beginning of 2008. Still, I suspect that, given Scalzi’s high online profile, there was a much greater participation rate for assignments #195 and prior, and that a lot of people dropped out when he did, not following the meme to its new home. It’s a challenge to keep a meme alive after its founder moves on – I can tell you from experience that it has taken several teams of dedicated book bloggers to continue the various memes and group activities that Dewey started – and Karen has certainly risen to it. Still, we seem to be down to just three mainstay participants – Julie, Mike, and me – so if any of us misses a week, it’s really noticeable. Last week, none of us responded to the assignment; I’m sure we each had different reasons (mine were primarily due to five out of six days dedicated to other posting responsibilities), but no one else chimed in, so it was officially pronounced “dud,” leading to this week’s further pronouncement from Karen:

And if, like this past week, nobody participates, you will instead see an announcement of the demise of the Weekend Assignment. Sorry, John Scalzi, I tried to keep it going. Really I did. But after writing 80-something entries continuing the meme you started, I may have to admit that it’s a lost cause. I seem to be running dry on crowd-pleasing questions, and haven’t had any good topic suggestions in a while now.

It makes me both anxious and a little sad to feel that this meme’s continued existence relies partly on my continued participation, which then begins to seem a little bit less than voluntary. I’ve contributed topic suggestions in the past, but haven’t had any brainstorms in that area for awhile (it’s harder than it looks!), and I’ve issued invitations in my own Assignment responses for readers here to join in, but haven’t had any recruiting success that I know of.

I’m in this space as a volunteer, not serving any particular causes other than communication and community. I may not be here all the time, but I’m here when I can be, doing what I can do, and I’m here for the long haul. And I’ll give recruiting volunteers for the Assignment one more shot: even though the weekend’s over, we have until Thursday evening to post responses on our blogs. Write about your own volunteer efforts in answer to Karen’s question, post it on your blog, and leave a link in the comments on the main post hosted at Outpost Mâvarin.

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  1. I don't want you to ever feel you must participate every week, although it's easy for me to assume that you will. (Sorry about that!) What I want is to inspire enough people to participate that no one person – or three persons – are essential to the meme's survival. I'm just not sure how to accomplish that, unfortunately!

    The memory walk sounds like a great thing to do; I would seriously consider doing something similar. A Tucson one would need to be a cooler time of year, though!

    Many thanks for your many great entries and your help with this meme. It's not anything important, like the zoo or Alzheimer's research, but it means a lot to me!

  2. Well, you have a much larger readership than I do, I hope you can recruit some people to join in!

    I'm not much of a volunteer-type person, but I've come up with something to write about when I get the time.

  3. Karen – I was raised Catholic, so my guilt reflex is easily triggered :-). Sorry I missed last week, and I'll keep trying to scare up a new participants too.

    The Tucson Memory Walk is October 17 this year (the same day as ours in Thousand Oaks). Hope it's a little cooler then!

    Mike – I know a few people have occasionally joined in on an Assignment topic after seeing it here, but no one's become a regular – it would be nice to pick up a few more of those!

    Why do I have a feeling you're going to have an interesting twist on the "volunteer" theme :-)?