Monday, November 2, 2009

Lighten Up. We're All Volunteers.

This one's for the reader who e-mailed me to tell me she didn't think this post was too preachy at all. Me, I think it's a bit of a rant. You can judge. Ice Mom

Lately I’ve heard people grousing about how the figure skating club’s board didn’t do something or how the figure skating club should do something else.

Constructive suggestions are fabulous. Workboots and overalls are even better.

I honestly don’t mind criticism. I think that every criticism has a bit of truth in it and can make an organization better. However, I can’t stand a whiner and I really can’t stand folks who feel entitled to something.

Figure skating clubs are volunteer organizations. What does the ideal figure skating club parent look like? Here’s a profile:

The ideal figure skating club parent member doesn’t take volunteers for granted and she respects volunteers’ time.

Don’t approach a volunteer and ask her to do favors for you that are outside of her normal club work. In other words, your figure skating club secretary is not your personal secretary.

Do recognize that volunteers’ time is precious and thank them for volunteering theirs.

The ideal figure skating club parent member volunteers.

Don’t assume your club is a business. Sending in your membership fees and ice contract money shouldn’t be the extent of your relationship with your figure skating club. When those e-mails come out asking for volunteers, don’t click Delete.

Do volunteer. Sign up to be ice monitor. Volunteer at the competitions. Ask someone if you can lend a hand. As a parent, you want your skater’s club to be successful so your own skater benefits from lots of ice and a good atmosphere. Volunteering is a great way to show your support for your skater, too.

The ideal figure skating club parent member tries hard to be positive and not poisonous.

Don’t gripe and talk behind others’ backs. Here are the kind of words to avoid: “Kathy does such a lousy job with the newsletter. I never know what’s going on.”

Do offer targeted assistance. Maybe your treasurer doesn’t have the skills you’d like to see in that position or maybe your secretary seems overwhelmed. Instead of complaining, offer to help that person. “You know, Kathryn, that newsletter is a big job. Would you like a hand? I can…” or “Hey, Lisa. Spreadsheets are really my thing. Would you mind if I sent you a draft of one that the club could use?” Try this, “I’ve always wanted to know how a test session works, Sandy. Can I assist you with the next one?”

The ideal figure skating club parent considers what’s best for all skaters, not just her own kid.

Don’t complain about a committee’s actions because the decisions don’t fit your lifestyle, schedule, or level of commitment.

Do support the club’s efforts as much as possible. It’s good for your voice to be heard, but if well meaning volunteers are doing something and trying to grow the club, don’t be a roadblock because you can’t or don’t want to volunteer. Explain what you can do to support the club’s efforts and wish the volunteers success.

Update: Ice Mom Advisory Board Member Mommia wrote about the board member/bully: In general, everyone [on the board] is great, but it takes only one to spoil it. One board member has caused problems more than once - making rules, then wanting exceptions for her children; pulling her volunteerism and her children out of a show; quitting the club, bad mouthing one of the coaches who is well-liked (but refuses to give in to the mom's demands).

This isn’t the end-all etiquette list for figure skating club parents. It’s a start. What can you add to round out the profile of the ideal member?


Denise said...

I don't think the post is too preachy.

Our reason for volunteering--to get to know the organization and its members where we are spending so much of our time and money.

We left a club because it was a very closed, unwelcoming group. We tried to volunteer for 2 years but no one took us up on our offer. We ended up moving to another club where we were quickly accepted and have given many hours of volunteer time to the club. Former club is struggling and losing members. Gee, I wonder why?! If you don't give your members the opportunity to be a part of the organiziation, they won't feel a connection to the group and will more easily move to another organization, if the opportunity presents itself.

Anonymous said...

Amen! ;)

DollMum said...

Your advice (not preachy) is good sense for any organisation involving volunteering.

Trouble is so many people can't take constructive criticism, they take it personally and don't grow or learn to appreciate other people as a result. I wonder how many skating mad children give up skating eventually because their parents don't get involved in their club in a constructive and friendly way.

Ice Mom said...

Good question, DollMum. I think we all need those plastic bracelets a la Livestrong that read: Do what's best for skaters

Ice Mom said...

By the way, thanks for telling me i'm not preachy. After a long line of posts like, "Hey Mom. Stop Coaching from the Stands," I feel like I'm a nag. That's not who I want to be.

Thanks, though.

Xan said...

Hear hear, (and thanks for the add!)

Ateam On The Edge said...

Not too preachy. Also know that you are not alone on this soapbox. The sad thing is that the flakes inside don't seem to change.

Xan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Another Ice Mom said...

NOT too preachy!

Our club is struggling and its the relationships that these women share that are the main issue. It's off putting to new members and makes any decision take upwards of three to four months. So nothing new comes out and the "club atmosphere" is missing.

I'll be printing the list out and making sure it comes to the next meeting.

Stella said...

Hey. I understand that it's not too preachy...

Anonymous said...

I don't think your post is preachy either. Our club is struggling as well. I think it's a combination of many things but the main reason is the cliquiness(is that even a word!?) of the parents.They're not very welcoming to new skater moms and want to do it all themselves.My main objective there is to be helpful when they need it and to avoid any of the drama and politics. It's detrimental to the club and it doesn't help the kids.