Friday, 2 November 2012

In it for the money...or not. Life as a volunteer

Like many other moms, and dads, out there, I have decided to predominantly be a stay at home parent while my children are still young. It has been partly motivated by the cost of childcare, but also because we find that, as a family, we live a healthier lifestyle when both my husband and I aren't rushing off to the office then home again too close to dinner. The other advantage of being home most of the time is that I can freely volunteer with my daughter's school, and over the course of the last year and a bit, I have grown to find the experience so rewarding and am very grateful for my experiences.

Makeshift Pumpkin Patch for our parent run
event for all the kids in the school
I had decided well before Coralie started kindergarten last year that I wanted to be able to volunteer for various activities at her school. At the start of the school year, I stepped up to be the Secretary for out Parent Advisory Council (PAC). When the Movie Night event was in jeopardy of not happening, I took over as the event leader, ensuring we would have another year of fun evenings for the whole family without paying movie theatre prices.

This year, it took a leap. With the previous Co-Chairs stepping down, I, along with another parent, took over the roles. Now that I'm two months in, I have already learnt so much! Being the point person for most questions regarding school events, ideas and fundraising, I have become good at delegating and have been learning the technique of being diplomatic in the way I communicate. After all, like me, each parent is a volunteer, and I never want to discourage anyone who may be curious and eager like I was just a year ago.

Me running a bike maintenance session for last year's
Earth Day Celebrations - also completely run by
parent volunteers
The biggest benefit has been getting to know so many people in the school community. I recognize teachers around the school, and have built great relationships with the administration, who also make my youngest feel welcome at what will be his school one day, too. Then there's the parents, so many of whom are just like me. Trying to be an active part in their child's school. I can't describe the feeling of community I experience walking onto the school yard and being greeted by smiling and gracious faces. We're all there to support each other and our kids, and there's something so fantastic about that.

I may not be getting paid for my efforts, but the value of the experience more than makes up for it. Each parents volunteer brings something different to the table, and we all learn from each other. Becoming a volunteer has been very rewarding for me, but I see how my actions have effected my children. I have a daughter that's proud to have me at the school, and has been known to brag to her friends about me. I guess that's the biggest advantage...I'm still a cool mom, and I'll gladly wear that title for as long as I can!

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