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“Where’s Craig? Where’d he go? What do you mean, he’s not coming in?” Sigh, if you have a moment,  I’ll try to explain it to you.

Craig is a volunteer who is unique in every way, but good unique. He is dutiful, and soulful and there is just something about him that makes me feel really good. It’s obvious he gets it. I know when he says he’ll be there he will. I know when he strums his guitar by the bedsides of the terminally ill, his raspy voice connects. What a find, I tell myself. How did we get so lucky?

But, after a short time and a long lasting impression, Craig had to quit. That’s the dangerous tip everyone sees. What lies beneath is a massive cold behemoth of ice that only I know about.  See, Craig lost his job, but that didn’t deter him from volunteering and after all, every unemployed person is eager to volunteer, right?

But then his wife became ill and she stopped working. They had to move (not far) and Craig sold his car. He’s now an unemployed caregiver without transportation. His bills are not being paid on time. An independent man, Craig is on assistance. His spirit has been crushed. He doesn’t feel like helping someone else when he needs so much help himself and he doesn’t want to hear how good volunteering is for him, nor does he need time away from his problems. He’s broken and he has to fix himself.

Craig is gone. And my sadness encompasses his problems, his broken spirit and the loss of a great volunteer. I can hope that he will return when things get better but somehow deep in that well worn gut I know that it will be a long, long time. I want everyone to understand his departure and to want to reach out to him, but I see the staff and other volunteers walking by and he asked me to keep all of this private. I will, but I want to TELL everyone. I want someone else to look over the side of the ship and see that destructive iceberg below the water line.

I see the accusing eyes of the staff when they ask me, “Where’s Craig?” Did you do something to him, they wonder. Why did you fail to keep him?

No I didn’t do anything and I can’t really tell you why he’s not here except to give you some generic reason. You see, we’re navigating some pretty rough seas and there are plenty of obstacles to volunteering. The water hides them from your view but volunteer managers see them lurking everywhere. And beneath every tiny icy tip is an iceberg.