This post is made possible by support from the Reward Volunteers Program. All opinions are my own.
VIPs are “very important people,” right?
At the Tallahassee Brewfest sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, VIPs got special treatment: their own designated entrance queue, special food, extra swag, and the all-important “special VIP glass.” No boring nondescript beer-tasting cups for them!
What Volunteers Do
I had many tasks throughout my day as a volunteer at the Tallahassee Brewfest, starting with unboxing those VIP glasses.
As the VIPs arrived, we welcomed each one, got them set up with their goodies, and wished them a happy event.
After the VIPs were processed, we had other jobs to do. We helped answer questions, relieved other volunteers, kept the venue tidy, and in general promoted a happy vibe among the 1200 Brewfest attendees.
After the event, we ushered participants out, then it was breakdown time. Our volunteer duties during breakdown time fell under the “if you see it, and it needs to be done, do it” category. Carting boxes of unused supplies out. Consolidating uneaten food and getting it to a new home. Throwing away bags of trash. Dismantling tables. More trash.
How Volunteering Helps
The Sunrise Rotary Tallahassee Brewfest is the club’s largest event of the year. Twenty-one organizations benefit. 21!
Each of these organizations is oh-so-worthy, but there is something Rotary does that makes it important for me, even though I am not a Rotary member, to pitch in at Brewfest: Rotary International is one of five partners in the Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership pursuing the sole goal of eradicating polio worldwide. I have been a Shot at Life champion for five years, advocating for children worldwide to have access to immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases including polio. We’re all on the same team in that regard, so it’s important for me to chip in.
Among the 21 causes Brewfest helps directly, several of them intersect with my interests and affiliations. I may not be able to volunteer at each one regularly, but helping at Brewfest indirectly gives them a boost. The Alzheimer’s Project, for example, provided several hours of respite care weekly so I could run errands (or sleep, or work) without worrying about my father-in-law. Honor Flight, a favorite cause, takes WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., every year to be honored. 211 Big Bend helps people experiencing suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues in addition to compiling resources for community services. More importantly to me, it’s where I received mental health training and experience that has served me for decades, long after I stopped answering the phones for the counseling hotline and the Florida AIDS Hotline.
What Volunteers Get
The list of rewards for volunteering at Brewfest flows as easily as the taps did that night (until time to close when we friendly volunteers showed everyone the exit)!
In addition to helping all the great causes I listed above, we get to see a broad cross-section of our community and socialize while we work.
We even got beer breaks – something you can’t say of every volunteer gig.
I also accrued Reward Volunteers points. RV is a program sponsored by the Cabot Cooperative, makers of the World’s Best Cheddar and other dairy products. I have been a member for more than a year. Here’s what Reward Volunteers is all about:
- It’s a site where you can log your volunteer hours and keep track of the ways you make the world a better place
- Participating organizations (and individuals) can win prizes for logging their hours
- Reward Volunteers lets you search for volunteering opportunities in your area
- The site gives gives Organizations and Volunteers a free way to track volunteer activity.
Learn more about Reward Volunteers from this Facebook Live I did with Cabot volunteer Amanda Freund.
But here’s one thing no bullet point list can adequately capture: the fun factor. It was rainy. Our boxes of VIP glasses got soggy. Guests arrived a bit skeptical about how day would turn out. We all had a great time.
Who’s the Real VIP?
There were other VIPs that got something out of the day besides the people we greeted when the event began. The other very important people are the ones served by the 21 incredible agencies that Brewfest supports.
The beer taps may have had to stop at the end of the event, but the event’s good results will flow all year long.