Volunteering isn’t just writing down your name


Grace Dorsey

[dropcap style=”flat”]R[/dropcap]BHS, the self proclaimed volunteer school of Columbia, boasts 500 volunteers and more than 10 core groups with volunteering hubs ranging from helping people with disabilities ride horses to picking up trash in the parking lot. But in my personal experience, RBRO has seen better days.
As an incoming freshman, I was determined to get involve in anyway possible. I recognized the opportunities RBRO offered and having just moved to Columbia, it was a way to meet like minded people and spend my time in a productive way. When I went to the informational meetings I was blown away by how many kids were going to be getting involved. The prospect of getting to know everyone seemed too good to be true, but I welcomed the diversity of the cores, which was a stark contrast from my previous schools.
But as the year went it on it became clear to me many of the students who had initially signed up were missing the opportunity to be a part of something that was both beneficial to them and the community.
What should have been productive meetings overflowing with volunteers developed into dismal turn ups. What should have been a highly organized and efficient means of communication turned into a group chat full of last minute explanations for absences.
This trend has continued into this year, despite a massive influx of freshmen.
Every Tuesday for the past few weeks I’ve taken the trip down to the Humane Society, spending time with the cats and dogs that are cooped up all day. It’s such a rewarding experience especially during stressful times when all you want to do is give up. In fact, interacting with pets is good for your heart and mental health according to a WebMD article. However, I believe this club isn’t reaching its full potential. If more students gave it a try, then more cats and dogs could benefit from human interaction. For the past few months a grand total of five members have shown up from week to week, often the same four people.
Another instance of the lack of genuine participation that I’ve personally experienced is within environment coalition. I went to a stream clean-up at the MKT trail, and there was only two other people. One was the club leader and the other was her younger sister, who doesn’t even go to RBHS. Keeping our environment clean is such an important thing to do, and it would be a lot easier if everyone worked together.
So, while I understand that the lack of participation isn’t meant in a malicious way, it’s important to realize the reasons you sign up for something. If you’re joining just for a college resume then maybe think again about how positive your involvement in the club would be.
For me this experience has taught me that I can’t always rely on others. It’s easy to let other’s actions influence mine, but from now on I really just want to focus on what I can do to further these clubs. It’s the importance of getting involved that what keeps me from quitting these clubs, and I just need to remember that, even if it means sacrificing time that could have been spent finishing up homework.
What are your experiences with volunteering?