Author Topic: Bad Volunteering Experiances?  (Read 1228 times)

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TexasRanger

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Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« on: February 22, 2013, 10:30:19 AM »
I love to volunteer, thing is It never works out/goes badly.

1. Between '03-'05 I volunteered with the Red Cross in another state. Over those years I volunteered at three different locations (all on a military base)
-First was called "Youth Services" and basically I (13 and super shy) was put in charge of making sure all the kids (ages 5-18) checked in/out and answered the phones. I HATE answering phones (anxiety issues) and what made it worse was the fact that all the adults decided the time I was there was the perfect time to go to lunch/pick up their kids/etc. So I had to deal with parents calling asking about fees, if there kid was there (this place was huge), etc. The only thing that was explained to me was how to use the in/out computer system and where the bathroom is. Yeah, I only stayed there about a month.

-Second was the on base library. I love to read and practically live in libraries/book stores so I thought I'd love it, wrong. They didn't have enough for us to do and ended up yelling at everyone when one kid just shoved books wherever he saw space.

-Third was the only one I remotely enjoyed. It was working at an animal shelter/vet's office and I even became friends with a girl I went to riding lessons with later on.

2. Attempt number two was with a lady who did hippo therapy (horse therapy for kids/people with disabilities). I love horses, how bad could this be? Let's count the ways:
-Used obviously lame horses for the lessons.
-Horses had no shade/shelter. They stood and roasted under the TX sun in small pens.
-The "round pen" had no fence, just a high tension rope a horse could walk over.
-Told me she'd pay me for some extra work I did, never saw a dime.
-Final straw was when she started treating me like I had the mental capacity of a three year old. All the other people who helped this woman had mild to sever issues (mostly autism) and so she just lumped me in with them. It got to the point that when my dad picked me up she spoke over my head to him (he was as shocked as me) and she told me to "use my words" when I became speechless.

The only part of that whole fiasco I enjoyed was when we took the horses to a biker rally (don't ask :-X and I made a few friends >:D.

3. The last time was during the Swine Flu outbreak and my school was closed for a week. I decided I would go and volunteer at at nearby animal shelter, since my last experience was good. How wrong I was.
-They poured bleach in cages with dogs still in them.
-Crammed all the kittens in tiny cages (looked like something out of a third world country)
-Verbally abusive towards one another (the place was run by a family and they would fight continuously)
-Washed all the water/food dishes in the same sink as the litter boxes and only used Dawn dish soap.  :o
-Since most of their "labor" came from teens doing community service, they couldn't understand why anyone would want to do work without being payed for it. ::) No, they never offered to hire me or anyone else.

So, any good stories?
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fountainsoflettuce

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2013, 01:28:46 PM »
I volunteered to do someone's taxes even though I was not qualified but thought I could handle the task:
  1. I was not an accountant, but my dad was an accountant
  2. I have a disability where I see the numbers in a certain sequence but when I write them out, I transpose some of the numbers
  3.  My writing hand was in a cast (broke my hand earlier that week)
  4. I borrowed my friend's college accounting books to figure out depreciation
  5.  I didn't have the instructions to the schedules

Firecat

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2013, 02:10:11 PM »
Some years ago, a local community group (details vague for privacy) was holding a big party to celebrate their 25th anniversary. I wanted to go, so I paid for tickets for my and my DH. I wasn't formally a full member of the group, but had attended and assisted with some of their events in small capacities.

A friend of mine, who is a member, called and asked if I'd be willing to volunteer for 30 minutes doing a specific thing. I agreed, because it was only 30 minutes out of about a 4-hour event. So I show up for my shift...and the person who was supposed to relieve me never showed up, nor did the person after that. And there were people constantly coming in, so it would have been difficult for me to leave the room and find an organizer (nor did the guy who supposedly organized all of this ever check in to see how things were going). I'm not even confident that he clearly communicated to everyone the times they were supposed to be there.

So I ended up in there for 3 hours and missed most of the party...only got one brief dance with my DH, and didn't get any of the food or beverages. The person who eventually did show up apologized profusely, as did my friend. But the guy who supposedly organized this aspect? Not a word. And the only reason someone did show up was because my DH tracked Organizer Guy down.

After that, I've never volunteered for that group again. Nor will I. Frankly, I think the least they could have done was refunded our tickets.

Only me

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2013, 02:11:48 PM »
Hi

I do volunteering through a couple of different places, but usually stick with something through work. And that is because its usually organized.

I can't remember where I was, but I was volunteering, and they didn't know what to do with anyone. I don't want to show u and have someone say "just find a place and help out". I prefer when they say "we need help >>>>".....

however I also learned that when I did answyer the phone to say "I'm sorry I don't ahve that information let me take a message" or "let me put you on hold adn find out". In the part where they put you on teh phones and people were asking questions you didn't know, just take a message.

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snowdragon

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2013, 02:29:11 PM »
Science Museum:

  I can't count the ways I was treated badly, from the security attempting strip searches ( because I declined to bring a purse after he searched that, and then stopped wearing anything with pockets and even socks when he stuck his hands into those) to the CEO calling me the b-word because he "thought it was a joke" to the guy I worked with tramping on boundaries.


The Food Pantry - is probably the best place I've worked but I really don't thing I need to hand out with my co-workers in the evening, especially since they do it on days I go to classes.  This seems to cause resentment amoung them.


College - I am the person in all of my classes who is the gifted researcher that even the teachers recognize.   I  have had many occasions to regret sharing that skill.  However last night took the cake, I am now a grad student, but I help out in ONE class for a professor I like, because I love the topic of the class. ( Tolkien, StarWars and Harry Potter) a couple of the kids are stuck on their  projects so I gave them a hand.... and later when we ran into each other at a restaurant the professor informed me that she gave out my email to ALL of her classes so I can help them.  95 students have been "invited" by this professor to go to me for help.    Because a grad student has that kind of free time.   And because I should not be able to choose who I help. sigh. 
  I'll help the ones I want to ( read the ones who ask not demand) and tell the rest, no.   

EllenS

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2013, 03:55:35 PM »
I once volunteered with a religious group trying to start a "street theater" outreach.  Supposedly I was going to help do rewrites on the script, then help direct and produce the show plus another I had written.  There was a very inspirational meeting where the pastor showed off brochures of all the travelling stage equipment, pictures of the van we'd travel in, laid out plans for which parks we would perform in, etc.  You probably already know that organizing such a thing takes months or years, involving public use permits, etc. and I was under the impression the group was in the final stages of pre-production

Days before casting and rehearsals were to start, we held a preview of the first show with a workshop cast.  Come to find out, this was basically a backer's audition, where the pastor was hoping to raise funds to produce the summer program.  That was when I discovered there was no actual budget.  Zero.  There was no equipment.  There was no van.  The choreographer, like me, was volunteering his time, but he had recruited dancers who were supposed to be paid.  Except there was no money.

Furthermore, I discovered that nobody had contacted the parks service to arrange permits.  Apparently I was supposed to arrange that - except that it takes six months to do the paperwork, and we were due to open in a few weeks.

I confronted the pastor and was told he was "trusting God" for the budget.  I told him I trust God, too, but when you promise things you don't have to other people, that is called lying.  I and the other few professionals involved walked away, and as far as I know the whole thing fell apart. 

oogyda

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2013, 05:05:24 PM »
When my DDs were in elementary school, I volunteered on many occasions.  Field trips, PTA things, class events, etc.  I was on the committee that hosted the "graduation" ceremony/breakfast.  On the big day, we were there early to decorate the area and prepare the food. 

The previous year's chairperson was nit-picking and bossy and eventually she and that year's chairperson got into a shouting match in the middle of the kitchen where about 8 of us were busy working.  I finally turned around and said "We're all volunteers, here.  So don't think we won't just leave if you two don't knock it off." They were actually arguing over who got to tell whom what to do! The gentleman next to me kind of stepped up and put his hand on my shoulder as a show of support, and others nodded.  They left through different doors and mostly just avoided each other, but we got to finish our work in peace. 
It's not what we gather along the way that matters.  It's what we scatter.

whiterose

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2013, 06:57:45 PM »
One of the reasons why I am so tremendously jaded against volunteer work:

In my high school, in order to be in NHS, you had to do 20 hours of community service each year.

I tried doing tutoring. But there were way too many available tutors and way too few interested pupils.

So in the middle of the year, I had to switch to doing volunteer work at the nursing home. I got in 16 hours. I had to make sure I could add the 5-6 hours I got from doing tutoring as well.

I did get into NHS. BUT my class' salutatorian could not enter till 12th grade, since she did not do the volunteer work in the 9th grade. Graduating class previous to mine only had TWO girls (out of 64) in NHS.

Principal cared WAY too much about doing community service. And not one bit about academics- let alone academic competitions. Academics were my strength. Hence my bitterness against volunteer work.
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lilfox

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2013, 01:12:59 PM »
I have had some good experiences - tutoring/mentoring elementary school kids - but two negative experiences with other organizations stand out.

First was with the local Red Cross.  I tried to volunteer once a week, but they were so disorganized that there was only work to be done every other time I showed up.  the volunteer coordinator kept saying to show up, but then would be gone when I did and no one else seemed to know what to do.  At one point I did some data entry but after that was done, there was nothing so I stopped going.

The second was far more disappointing.  It was with a women's shelter, so in order to volunteer, I had to get a background check and have two letters of recommendation.  The job was a good fit - data entry cataloging paperwork for all the women/families that were helped, so they could track demographics etc.  I worked two afternoons a week for several months putting together a master spreadsheet on the main computer. I was probably 2/3 done with the huge stack of paper.  Then came winter break and they said come back in a month.  When I did, my spreadsheet... Was gone.  I had saved it to the desktop in a clearly labeled folder.  The folder was deleted, not just in the wastebasket but completely gone.  It was the only thing deleted, there were both older and newer items in the wastebasket, so someone had to deliberately remove my file.

Naturally the office manager said she had no idea what happened, but sometimes they got computer help from some guy (she was pretty vague), and next time he was around, she would ask him to find the file.  I called a few times after that and got brushed off, so I quit trying.  I still have no idea why someone would want to erase that file.

Tia2

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Re: Bad Volunteering Experiances?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2013, 07:21:27 PM »

The second was far more disappointing.  It was with a women's shelter, so in order to volunteer, I had to get a background check and have two letters of recommendation.  The job was a good fit - data entry cataloging paperwork for all the women/families that were helped, so they could track demographics etc.  I worked two afternoons a week for several months putting together a master spreadsheet on the main computer. I was probably 2/3 done with the huge stack of paper.  Then came winter break and they said come back in a month.  When I did, my spreadsheet... Was gone.  I had saved it to the desktop in a clearly labeled folder.  The folder was deleted, not just in the wastebasket but completely gone.  It was the only thing deleted, there were both older and newer items in the wastebasket, so someone had to deliberately remove my file.

Naturally the office manager said she had no idea what happened, but sometimes they got computer help from some guy (she was pretty vague), and next time he was around, she would ask him to find the file.  I called a few times after that and got brushed off, so I quit trying.  I still have no idea why someone would want to erase that file.

My guess some sort of fraud - however they raised funds, the demographics/number of people you were inputting didn't match what they were reporting.  It might even have been for charitable reasons - if they got $X extra if they could show they helped certain people and were doing good works with the money, they might have felt justified in claiming sufficient numbers of those type of people even if this wasn't true.

Your database would have blown this out of the water.

Of course, that's just my guess and I work in criminal law so I tend to be fairly cynical.  If it had just been the database going missing, I would think that 'some guy' who worked on computers had done it in the hope of being paid to recreate the database but you being brushed off seems hinky.