The Volunteering “Job”

Believe it or not, volunteer time is worth $18.87 an hour in Ohio. The Independent Sector, a website that tracks these numbers, ranks Ohio with the other states in these matters.

In 2011 I volunteered 88 hours to Playhouse Square.  By that measure I “earned” $1660 just at the theater.  I also volunteered about 40 hours for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  I’m guessing that this $18+ number comes from how much these organizations would have to pay someone to do what I do for free.  I feel good that I saved the theater and the park money and I got so much pleasure in exchange.

A typical Redcoat has many IDs and pins

It’s hard to imagine myself getting paid for what I do as a volunteer. Trying to look at it objectively, I see that volunteers often get to do the fun bits.  These are the things that the employee thought they could do when they hired on to work in a park or a theater, but soon they found out that it is the tedious things they are doing instead.

In addition to fun you get gifts! Organizations try very hard to show how they appreciate their volunteers. There are picnics, free events and other tokens such as pens, cups, hats or pins. I just earned my 100-hour pin for ushering such hits as Jersey Boys, Lord of the Dance, and Cabaret.  I am also eligible for free tickets to the Indians games if I volunteer as few as four hours.

More and more, volunteers are filling in doing the really boring bits as well. They are now doing filing, bookkeeping, fund raising, and other jobs that professional people used to do. This must place an employer in a hard position. The volunteer may feel that they can opt out for a day if another opportunity comes up, but the employer is counting on them to be there to perform a really critical task.

Most importantly, volunteers get the satisfaction of helping. The volunteers I have met in both California and Ohio are really serious about their jobs and rarely “opt out.”  Sometimes they are too serious and try to “train” other volunteers.  I’m hoping this is to show how seriously they take their responsibilities. Missing their assignment for anything short of death, births, and marriages is not an option for most of the volunteers I know. Many are more dedicated to their assignment than some paid people are.

My friends have a wide variety of volunteer jobs. They are helping in the local parks, in nursing homes, and at their churches.  My Redcoat acquaintances also volunteer at the Cleveland Airport, several local hospitals, Severance Hall, and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  My National Park volunteer acquaintances have multiple assignments within the park. This helped place Cuyahoga Valley National Park in first place for volunteer hours in the entire country.

Volunteering is one of the best parts of being retired, living in Cleveland, knowing my community, meeting new people, and giving back to others.

Getting ready to usher In The Next Room: The Vibrator Play


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2 responses to “The Volunteering “Job””

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  1. Judy says:

    You look very cute in your red coat – you are doing a wonderful job – and you clearly are having fun. I am sure that all the theater goers love you! Just hold on to the wheelchairs!!

    • Karen says:

      I neglect looking stern and knowledgeable so I can visit with the guests. Shame! I did find out that, at the Vibrator Play, one guest suggested we have vibrating seats! Midwestern unpredictability.