Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sign me up

I have come to realize that I have a problem and need to get help. The truth is it has spiraled beyond mere problem, and is now a full blown addiction. It has taken over my personal life and strained my marriage and taken a toll on my family. Hello, my name is Shawna and I am a volunteer.

I realized I have a problem when my husband gently suggested I dial it back a bit, a friend slipped me an article on volunteering run amok from the NYT, and another friend gave me a sticky note pad that read: Stop me before I volunteer again. This was all in the same week.

I don't remember when it began but I wasn't always like this. In fact, in my early 20s I don't recall doing my own work, let alone someone else's if I could help it. Some might claim my current problem is a way I justify my non-working, stay at home status, but I was like this when I was working in the corporate world. Crappy project that no one else would touch with a ten-foot pole? Sign me up! Mind-numbing research that needs doing? I'm your gal. Boring meeting that will take years off your life? Sure, I will attend on your behalf and take meticulous notes.

Nowadays my addiction is concentrated on my children's schools. On any given week you will find me working in someone's classroom, baking some sort of baked goods for some function, and providing administrative services or other project management for something else, sometimes simultaneously. Do you have a fundraiser that you need a sucker to run? Give me a call. Need chairs set up for a meeting? Name tags made with adorable clip art? I'm on it. So I decided I needed to embark upon a 12 step program.

Step 1 - I admit that I am powerless over my addiction and my life has become unmanageable. I literally can't say no. Just ask me. I am fine ignoring the email soliciting help for this or that, but the point blank request - no way. And god help me if my children ask me to do something for one of their classes, sports teams or strangers who need a dozen cookies. And yes, my life has become unmanageable. Today I spent over two hours driving into DC to procure supplies for our Brownie troop. The Brownie troop I volunteered to lead and have spent a bazillion hours jumping through bureaucratic hoops to get started. Two hours. For vests. And badges. That could have been ordered via fax. Totally unmanageable.

Step 2 - I have come to believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. I call this power - bottle of wine.

Obviously I have a long ways to go in the healing process. My first act will be to find a self-help support group. And if I can't find one I will form one, and be the president, bake some cookies for our meetings and hold a fundraiser. Come to think of it, they will also need someone to secure a meeting space, set up chairs and make name tags. With adorable clip art. I am sure I will be just fine.


  1. Oh, my poor volunteeraholic. I am struggling to hold back the tears as I type this. In fact, I wrote an entire blog posting about this wretched condition, and you, my friend, were the star. Flashbacks coming yet?
    Here is a hint: you are "Sandra".
    Get help.

  2. Too bad no one would come to your meeting. We'll all be busy doing our own volunteering. Unless of course, you assign us some of those tasks....

  3. Alane, I already have you slotted to chair a few of the committees. Oh yeah, and we will need you and Nancy to cook up a directory. Thanks!

  4. oh! i can't believe this! we have the same addiction. OK, well actually I can believe it. Can I co-chair that support group with you? I'll make the agendas, send out the meeting reminders, run the meeting, make sure someone is bringing snacks, take notes and then email the minutes out to the group...