The Ups & Downs

Submitted by Michelle on March 27, 2013 - 9:54pm
What keeps us going


My March break is always proposal writing week. Why do what seems like 30% of all foundations need proposals in by March 15, with another 10% or so needing them March 31 or April 1? (Easter holidays this year!) I am okay at writing proposals and manage about a 1 in 3 success rate. I have to give credit to my community worker instructors at Humber College for taking the time to teach us many moons ago, how to write a good proposal with a hands on course that brought in 3 funders to tear apart our proposal submissions and set us straight on what funders were looking for. So, at the end of the week, I had the satisfaction of knowing they were complete and could come off my to do list but feeling frustrated that we still rely so heavily on funders, which also took me back to our course book, "The rich get richer, and the poor write proposals!" That was the "down" part.

So after pulling off 7 proposals in one week, I was ready to "get back" to work.

Here comes the "up" part....

The staff person who administers our utilities support program was off last week, so I filled in. I met some amazing people. One couple came in with their 4 month-old: Mom was starting back to work part time next week and dad held down 2 part time jobs. They had managed to buy a town house but were working non stop in minimum wage positions to manage the costs. This was one determined couple and guess what? ...They know what community is!

As we are filling out the paper work, the Mom says, can we help out with anything around here?! These people have 4 kids and are both working and they want to help. So I asked what they like to do and Mom says, "my husband is a bit of a handy man." So, I let them know about a shelf I need to be put up on the wall and tell them about our community garden that always needs a hand, especially in the spring.  Away they went and I hoped I would see them again, but wasn't going to get my hopes up.

A couple of days later, while I am in the middle of dealing with HST audit- (whole other story!) our volunteer receptionist tells me there is someone here to put up a shelf. So I left my piles of cheque stubs, HST calculations and back up materials. This wonderful man and his wife and 4 month old had come to the centre during drop-in so they could meet the other families and put up the shelf! He had a saw and drill & everything he needed to do it! How amazing is that!?

So my shelf is up and it is no longer in a corner of my office collecting more junk! Oh ya and even better, when I told them they are welcome back anytime, the husband told me that just like we have welcomed them in to our place, I am welcome at his home anytime! So that is the best story of my week.


Hi Michelle,

Seven proposals in one week! Impressive!

It strikes me that the reason the family responded so generously is because you asked for help with something specific. If you had just said "Oh, come fix things here sometime, we have lots of things that need fixing." I wonder if he would've showed up. There's something about being asked to help with a specific project that is so much more motivating. You know?


Number one reason people do not volunteer

The number one reason people do not volunteer (according to a friend of mine who does research in this area) is that they are simply not asked.  People want to be asked, it makes you feel important and people like to feel important.  The other part of it is that, we are often busy, our heads full of all sorts of things, that we neglect to think about volunteering until someone asks.  By making it specific, it makes it that much easier for us to respond.



You may be right. I hadn't thought of that. I wonder if I had a setion on the bulletin board with a job list if I would get people to take on some things. Since they would all be fairly simple tasks rather than things like- be the volunteer coordinator, I might get some bites. I have a new volunteer who gets really excited about doing bulletin boards- I am going to ask her to put something together- then everytime I think of something I an just out it on a card & post it.

So true!

That's a really good point, Nina!


Sometime it's overwhelming to know how to help- but, having a specific task recommended is certainly motivating!


Hi Michelle,

This family teaches us such an important lesson- that we can create such an impact when we love and serve others, despite our circumstances. How powerful!

I love hearing this little narratives. Keep them coming :)