Anyone who has ever stepped up and joined a group knows the obligations often outweigh the perks. If you’ve taken on an executive role or, heaven forbid, the chair position, this is doubly true.
As a volunteer on a public or private sector board, the expectations are high. If you receive an honorarium, there is some small measure of compensation for your time and effort. And the commitment of both time and effort can be significant, especially if you take your obligations seriously.
There are always regulations governing action and both assigning and limiting power. There are usually meeting packages to read, meetings to prepare for, and often extra committee duties. There is always the expectation we will bring our best game to the table, act as reasonable, prudent people, and exercise our fiduciary responsibility. We will put the good of the group/cause/organization before any personal interest or gain. we’ll attend meetings and fulfill any promises we make.
We may also have to suffer through interminable and often poorly run meetings. We may see our fellow homo sapiens at their most bull-headed worst (when they don’t agree with our brilliant point of view!). We will often wonder why the hell we didn’t just say NO when someone asked us to get involved.
That’s the downside.
The upside of putting ourselves out and volunteering is that sometimes we pull off a really good thing for our community. Such was the case when, as Chair of our local public library board, I welcomed our audience to an author talk. University of Alberta professor and author of Baba’s Kitchen Medicines Michael Mucz was in Andrew to talk about his book. Both he and our board were thrilled with the turnout of over 30 residents?his largest audience yet. When he ran out of books to sell and sign, we took pre-paid orders to be shipped out this week. He was humbled by the experience. We were glad so many people left the comfort of their homes to learn something. And we didn’t even stack the crowd with reluctant relatives.
Mucz was funny when he needed to be, and sombre when he recounted some of the sadder stories in the book. The talk was lively and the audience appreciative of this guy who isn’t afraid to ?fly his Ukrainian colours.? His interviews of over 200 pioneers told a story of courage, creativity and resilience as these hardy souls found their own usually plant-based solutions to illness and injury. We learned there was an efficacy and wisdom in those old-time remedies, just as the world is acknowledging the role of traditional Chinese medicine. For a moment he made us question our reliance on pharmaceuticals and doctors.
He made this Chair believe we did a good thing for our community. It was worth, it from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.