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Thrown under the bus? Yeah, I feel like I have a permanent place under there sometimes. I’ve moved a coffee pot and a few magazines right next to the driver’s tire, just to make it home-like.

Jenny is an episodic volunteer and a teacher at a local elementary school. She is one of those “busy brain” people, creative, always imagining. I’m sure her kids just love her. She’s been wanting to help our hospice for quite a while and myself in particular. She confided in me that she’d like to work for us someday when she retires, which will be in about 5 years. I’m thinking, hey, ok, no problem, you are welcome to apply anytime.

So Jenny meets with me and says she will be glad to do some recruiting. This is great because she has a lot of contacts through PTA and other teachers. We come up with a great plan and a schedule of meetings for us to track the results. In her new enthusiasm, she has come up with several ideas, all of which we have already implemented, but that’s ok. She’s on the right track.

We meet once and Jenny goes off to create a plan. I give her free rein. Our next meeting she can’t make and the next. She is busy. That’s ok, I know that nothing new ever starts smoothly. But now, school is starting and she is really busy. Again, that’s ok, we can work slowly. I figure everything is fine. I tell her to let me know when she has time and we will meet at her convenience. She apologizes for blowing me off and says she will carve some time out soon.

So, the other day, one of our marketing representatives stops by. She asks me about a volunteer named Jenny. “Hmmm, why do you ask?” I return politely.
It seems our executive director happened to run into Jenny at the school where Jenny teaches. Our director’s nephew is enrolled there. According to the marketing rep, Jenny filled our director’s ear with her perceived lack of volunteer recruitment in her area and added “I am trying to help get some recruitment programs off the ground, but I’m not getting much support.”

Ah, I can feel the tires crushing me now. The marketing rep goes on to say that Jenny also told our director that “no one in my community knows about hospice services. It’s such a shame. I would love to help get the word out for you.”

So, now the marketing rep is annoyed with me because we all know volunteer managers can control everything volunteers do. I love it when one person out of hundreds or thousands makes an offhand comment and that comment represents reality. How do you combat that? Get a petition out and prove them wrong? Get angry and berate the person that made that observation?

No, actually, I looked at the marketing rep, whom I do like and respect and offered her a cup of coffee. “Be careful, there may be a bit of gravel in it. But, isn’t it cozy under here? Welcome, my friend.”