Why Volunteers Are Like Mortar

Note:  I was honored to be featured in the “Volunteer Spotlight” in the September 2010 Gulf Winds Track Club newsletter (the Fleet Foot).  Here’s what I wrote:

I appreciate being featured in the September “volunteer spotlight.” This is exciting because, besides being honored, I get to write something. Getting to write something is almost always a plus for me, and even more so when I get to talk about something I love.

I often joke that running is the price I pay to be around such great people. That is sort of contorting my feelings about running, because I do love running for its own sake (usually), but runners and the people who support them have a spirit of supportiveness (and fun) that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Volunteering provides an insight into the running world that can expand your perspective, help you increase your skills, and provide rewards both tangible and intangible. I wish everyone who races could see the event from the volunteer angle at least once. In Tallahassee, we have gotten used to being able to roll out of bed and show up at a race shortly before race time, throw some cash and the registration form at the table and go. Well, behind every “show up and run” race is a cadre of people who spent hours behind the scenes securing sponsors, designing tshirts, marking the course, coordinating logistics — the list goes on and on. Having stood at the Palace Saloon 5K finish line being on the “receiving end” of hordes of sweaty guys hustling out the last of their adrenaline (and being in charge of slowing them down/keeping them in line), I got a whole different feel for race energy than I do from my usual spot at the mid to back of the pack!

Another task that I really enjoy is helping with club communications, in the form of being one of the volunteer proofreaders for the Fleet Foot. On the one hand, runners just want to run, so many readers may think, “what does it matter if a comma is out of place or Susan’s PR was listed as 25:43 instead of 24:53?” The thing is that we show we care about our club by paying attention to this kind of thing, and Susan worked hard for that 24:53 so why should we short her 50 seconds? Charles R. Swindoll said it well: “The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.” I want to be a part of keeping the club something great.

Lastly, I have had the joy the past three years of serving as Captain of the club’s Relay for Life team. In the most recent year, we raised almost $6,000 for the American Cancer Society. Everyone in this club has been touched by a family member or friend who has battled cancer, and we have quite a few survivors in our midst. Our team gives us a chance to bond for a cause, and, being us, gives us an excuse to go round and round on a track.

I sort of look at the club’s athletic pursuits as bricks. As volunteers, we provide the mortar that holds it all together.

2 thoughts on “Why Volunteers Are Like Mortar

  1. Pingback: Tips for new runners: commit, cultivate, volunteer

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