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So today I have a holiday get together for a group of volunteers who do some really incredible special projects that enhance the lives of our patients and families. These volunteers create crafts that are given to either patients or family members. These ladies are craftsman, artisans if you will, because each and every item is turned out with the skill and care of an artist.

I will create lunch for them, get tokens to take home, maybe craft a fun holiday game, but most of all, try to deliver an inspiring message about how much this means to our clients, blah, blah, blah.

I’ve invited other staff members to come, but guess what? They are too busy. Now I understand being busy and not having the time, but I’m not asking them to do my job, I’m asking them to just show up and thank these ladies for the hours and hours of work and love they have put into these crafts. Does the message sound better coming from staff who give out these crafts and see the reaction of those who benefit or it is better coming from me, the one paid to be there?

I would wager that the word volunteer appears only in the volunteer managers’ job description. Are the volunteers not everyone’s responsibility when it comes to praise, feelings of inclusion and worth? In a perfect world yes, but this world of volunteer management is far from perfect. We are the ones left to make the volunteers feel welcomed or needed. We are the ones to put on the thank you gatherings and then we have to relay the message from the organization. That’s a pretty weak message when it’s passed down through the channels.

Caring for volunteers should be part of everyone’s job description. Until that time, volunteers will continue to feel isolated and less than the very staff who benefit from their involvement.

Off I go to spread the good cheer and I hope these very deserving volunteers don’t notice that folks are too busy to stop by and thank them.