Fighting Poverty with Passion
New Orleans Fruit Tree Project 2013-2014
I feel I’ve had more ups and downs with my second year as an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer than I did during my first year. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the second year be easier?
But it isn’t getting easier, and I realized it’s because I wasn’t willing to change my way of coordinating volunteers.
At first, I thought maybe the reason I’m having such a tough time was because I’m working for a different organization with different needs, but the same needs exist for all non-profits: find volunteers, find outreach events, find interns, and find money!
During my first few months on the job as the NOFTP volunteer coordinator I had plenty of volunteer groups helping me out in the field, but once summer started they stopped coming and I was left to keep the lots maintained on my own. I did it for a few months, but all I ended up doing was direct service. Even after splitting some of the field work responsibilities with my Exec. Director. I still wasn’t doing what I was hired to do and that was find volunteers and interns for NOFTP projects.
Even now at the end of summer I continue to do a lot of direct service (working in the field) and I guess the reason I was willing to do so was I couldn’t believe anyone would want to volunteer to do this torturous field work. It’s no fun feeling like you’re about to get heat stroke every time you work outside for a few hours. You drink gallons of water, and piss and sweat even more out, and don’t forget about the nasty red ants and the poison ivy you end up attracting on your arms and legs every time you’re in the field no matter how careful you are. It’s a hard job to do during the summer here in Louisiana, so I’m happy the summer ends tomorrow, because with the end of summer comes the return of the volunteer groups.
I’m also happy that now I can share my field work with two interns that I hired a few weeks ago. They’ll be working in the field 2-3 hours a week helping me weed whack, water the papaya trees and help with other projects. I also have a volunteer group coming to help us out in the field next Saturday.
My volunteer experience with the NOFTP started off great, but the summer was a challenging experience. Now things are looking up, but I wonder how things will go during the harvest season, which starts in less than two months. How am I going to juggle with maintaining the lots and our papaya orchard while I have citrus harvest season to contend with? I guess that’s another blog.