Wednesday, May 9, 2007

When it rains it pours.

I never knew it would take this much effort just to volunteer somewhere!

So, I've been looking into volunteering as an English or Reading tutor. I've been working on this since March. Admittedly I'm not as outgoing as some people, so it take s a while for me to work up the nerve to cold-call someone, even when it's, ostensibly, that person's job to talk to would-be volunteers. Anyway the first couple of people I spoke to worked with reading programs for children - SMART & the YMCA homework clubs. I almost signed up with one of them, but then decided I really wanted to work with adults.

One of the coordinators gave me the website of PDX Literacy which works with adults. I filled out their online application, called the information line and found out the next training was in April, and that I could either call a coordinator prior to the training to get set up with a position, or I could wait until after the training. I decided to get a jump on things and emailed the volunteer coordinator, and the training coordinator. Neither one of them responded. I called the volunteer coordinator and left like two messages, and called the training coordinator and left a message with her. Finally I get a message on my home machine from the volunteer coordinator saying that it was spring break and thats why she hadn't called me back. She actually sounded kinda snotty about it - as though I should have known that. But I work for a university, and *I* didn't get spring break off!!! And if I had - I know how to change the outgoing message on my voice mail! Well, I called both of them back - the training coordinator sent me the packet to sign up for the training. the volunteer coordinator, however did not call me back. Are we sensing a trend here?

I went to the training - and as I reported it was incredibly interesting, and further solidified my desire to tutor ESL (or ENNL = English as a non-native language) students. After the first training, I called the coordinator and miracle of miracles actually got her on the phone, but she was about to leave. She apologized for not getting back to me, said she appreciated my enthusiasm, and took down my information to call me back. Which of course never happened. At the second training I talked to someone who'd already observed an ESL class, and had an appointment to meet with her student the next day. I asked her who her coordinator was and decided to try that one instead.

So last Monday I called the second coordinator and left a message. Yet again - no call back. I was beginning to doubt whether this was an actual volunteer organization or just a cover for a covert para-governmental consortium. On the wise advice that if this is how they treat potential volunteers - they are probably not an organization I would enjoy working with, I decided to give up on them altogether and look for some other place to volunteer. I found some information about the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and gave them a call this past Monday. As is my luck - the number posted was incorrect. It now belonged to a law-office who knew about IRCO but did not have a current number for them. I also hand an email address- I decided to try that.

And here is where the magic happened. That volunteer coordinator not only responded to my email - he did so *WITHIN TWO HOURS*!! I couldn't even believe it. I called the number in his email, left a message, and he called about an hour later. As if I wasn't in enough shock... he was very nice, and set up an appointment for me to meet with him on Thursday - TOMORROW! I'd spent a month just trying to talk to someone from the other organization - and here I go from first email to an appointment in 4 days! I'm really excited to get together with him - I'll get to observe a class and find out about their training & orientation. He said the training I'd had sounded good, but I'm happy to go to their training just to get a little more familiarity with the techniques I'll need to use. And the absolute best part... the part that I couldn't have even imagined - HE QUILTS!!! When he told me where their office was I mentioned that I knew where it was because of the fabric store nearby. We started gabbing about our quilting projects - it was really fun. If that's not kismit I don't know what is. He sent me the volunteer application & asked for some references - so that's all in the works.

By Tuesday I was really excited about this opportunity and feeling much better about getting the shaft from the other volunteer coordinators, and the fact that I'd given up two Saturdays in a row for them and still hadn't gotten a call back (not that I'm bitter). In one of those weird quirks of the universe, you can guess what happened next. I got to work today and had a message on my voice mail. It's the second coordinator from the first place calling me back & wanting to talk about me volunteering there. :P I intend to call her back - because I think it would be rude not to. But I won't be doing it any time soon!

I'm really excited about meeting with Mr. Quilterman tomorrow (at 8:30am urgh!)and I will tell you all about it.


Magatha said...

Well, I certainly hope you get to follow through with your ESL work. You've been 'blocked' and stymied so much so far. (Never let a good deed go unpunished!) What are the odds you'd meet a quilting guy? It's a small world.

Klozter said...

I'm really impressed with your determination to do some good in this world. I hope your work with the African woman is challenging and rewarding. I'm glad to find your blog and no, there's nothing wrong with crochet, I just don't need any distractions from my pile of knitting projects!