No. of Recommendations: 31
Thought I'd drag this out of reb's Hallelujah thread.

Golfwaymore: Never underestimate the ability of a volunteer organization to suck every free minute of time you have and completely muck up your ER.

Very true.

A pathetic example:

Year 1. I sign on to work a 3 ½ hours hotline shift once a week. Within 3 months, they want me to be a Team Leader, which means I'm on call for a whole day to answer questions from other volunteers.

Year 2. I'm doing extra shifts as well as Team Leader. Finding people to transport wildlife from shelters and vets is becoming an issue so I start doing transports for my own shifts.

Year 3. Pretty soon I'm doing transports other times, and by mid-summer I'm chauffeuring raccoons regularly. Each transport takes at least 3 hours. Plus side – I'm getting to know the wildlife and the rehabilitators.

Year 4. All heck breaks loose. The person overseeing the hotline has let things slip, so there is a lack of volunteers. Massive exits from the organization, including this person. Another woman and I try to prop up the hotline and the transport system. It turns into a full-time job. No support from the Board although we keep outlining problems that will eventually destroy the hotline. (This is when they tried to pay me to do the jobs – I'm not that stupid). At the end of the year, someone asks me if I want to be on the Board. In a Percocet-induced haze, I say yes. That was really dumb. I also sign on as an apprentice rehabber for songbirds.

Year 5. I find out how self-serving most people on the Board are. My stomach hurts after each Board meeting. I keep saying that the hotline is in trouble and that the other person helping with it and I are getting burnt out. Finally, in May, we send a letter saying we will no longer play as of September 1. At the beginning of August (!) they finally realize that 1) we mean it 2) they only have a month left. As of today, still haven't gotten it straightened out, but I am boogying Sep 1. I'll still do a few shifts a month, but that's it!

1. They will suck you dry – see Golfwaymore's comment.

2. If you back off, some will accuse you of letting them down, etc. Big time guilt trip. You got through FIRE, you can get through this.

3. If you are very careful, volunteering can be a rewarding experience. Even transporting raccoons was interesting in moderation. And I really enjoy my birdies.

Future plans:
1. Stick to 4-6 hotline shifts a month.

2. Get off the Board!

3. This is the hardest – during the busy baby bird season, learn to say no, even if a birdy has to die. This is really hard, but better the bird than my marriage. You can't save everything.

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