Anecdotes on Volunteering
(Words to Inspire)
We list our most recently received anecdote first...so come back and visit again to see what's new! All the items in this area are submitted by site visitors. Energize requires that the source be credited for all quoted works.
Canada's site, Charity Village, offers cartoons about volunteering from Association Life.
Chronicle of Philanthropy Cartoons
Originally printed in the journal.
Planet 501c3 Cartoons Archive
Archive of cartoons on the nonprofit world published by CompassPoint.
Potpourri of Humorous Jokes & One-liners About Volunteers & Causes
Shared by Colleagues (most recent first)
The Founding Fathers Write a Grant Proposal, by Jan Masaoka in Blue Avocado (2013).
Board Service Burn-Out Quiz and Recovery Plan, by Carol Weisman (2011) -- humorous quiz, but with serious recommendations
"A Tongue-in-Cheek Look at the Trials of Volunteering" (animated 3:50 min. video): Volunteer Seeks Gig (or Even Superheroes Get the Blues) from tobijohnson.typepad.com, 2011
My wife and I often share our music with seniors at retirement or nursing homes. I play the cello and she plays the harp. Often times my wife will introduce a song or tell something about the music she is about to play. One time she told the audience that she is going to play a piece entitled, Claire de Lune by Claude Debusy. One hard of
hearing resident asked another sitting next to her, "What did she say?" The resident replied, "She is going to play Fruit of the Loom."
And the Moral Is?
In reading Lillian Wald's Windows on Henry Street I came across this accounting:
"I am not oblivious of the fact that men and women sometimes
are thought to give time or money to philanthropic enterprises
in part, at least to further social ambitions. There is no circle
to which that practice is confined.
The telegraph 'boy' who once brought a message late at night I recognized as a friend of long ago. He tarried to tell me of the family we had once known....All was well with my brother-in-law till he was ruined by charity. It just began this way. We moved to Chicago, and he had a little business which he knew how to run; and everybody in the family helped him. And then he gave some money to charity and the charity people asked him to go on a committee, and he worked something fierce for that committee. And then they asked him to go on another and he was very proud, and would you believe it, they asked him to go on a third. He gave a little money to each committee, and that was all right. But he neglected his business. Now he has only two people working for him instead of seven, and he don't make much, and that's how charity ruined him."
And the moral is ?
Submitted by Rhoda White, NYC
Overheard at the World Volunteer Conference
In response to the observation that volunteers are too often seen as amateurs: "Just remember: Noah's Ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic was built by professionals."
Submitted by Susan J. Ellis, President, Energize, Inc.
Meals on Wheels
A daughter had just helped her 90-year-old mother through the strain of moving from the family home into a new unit in a senior apartment building. The daughter was trying to tidy up all the arrangements and tactfully said: "Mum, what about Meals on Wheels?" To which her mother replied: "No, dear, I don't think I could volunteer for them anymore."
--Participant at Australian Volunteer Conference
Submitted by Susan Ellis, President, Energize, Inc.
My young nephew lives in Germany because his dad is in the Air Force. The only American TV shows he is able to view in Germany are reruns, such as Guilligan's Island, 911 Emergency, etc. His very favorite show of all was 911 Emergency. One Christmas when he was back in the states with his family visiting his grandmother in Mustang, OK, he called 911 and announced they were needed at his grandmother's house. His little 6 year old voice seemed excited over the phone and the 911 operator promptly routed the emergency unit to his grandmother's house.
When the Emergency Medical Team arrived at the front door, the family gathered and was surprised to learn that someone at this address had called for assistance. The little 6 year old boy finally made his way to the door and excitedly announced that he was glad to see the rescue people and he just wanted to tell them that they were doing a great job and to keep up the good work!
I end this story by telling the volunteers that we just want to
tell them that they are doing a great job and to keep up the good
Submitted by Betty Tibbits Volunteer Manager Oklahoma Blood Institute
Top Ten Failed Slogans for our Volunteer Program
- You said that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Well, it's starting to get tough, so we're going.
- Volunteers are good...
for nothing! (& AmeriCorps
Volunteers are good for practically nothing!)
- Community service
.. It's not just for hardened criminals
on parole, anymore.
..What else are you going to do with a liberal
..the other white meat. (Submitted by the
Council for the Radical Advancement of Pork).
- The Golden Rule Still Applies, Unless You're A Sado-Masochist
- Project SERV volunteers do it for free.
- Volunteer, cause you'd like your resume to be at least of
- Altruism is not a disease.
- Please help us by submitting your slogan proposal. The winner
gets a free cup of coffee.
Submitted by Brandon Rogers, Director, Project SERV, KS from local newsletter
As Seen in Readers Digest
A teenager brought home her new boyfriend to meet her parents, and they were appalled by his appearance: leather jacket, motorcycle boots, tatoos and a pierced nose. Later, the parents pulled their daughter aside and
said "He doesn't seem very nice." "Mom," replied the daughter, "if he wasn't so nice, why would he be doing 5000 hours of community service?"
Submitted by Rhoda White, Director of Volunteer Services,
Visiting Nurse Service of New York
A Legend in the Middle East
A spindly little sparrow is lying on his back in the middle of the road. A horseman comes by, dismounts and asks the sparrow what he's doing lying upside down like that. "I heard the heavens are going to fall today," said the sparrow. "Oh," said the horseman, "and I suppose your spindly little legs can hold up the heavens." "One does what one can," said the sparrow. "One does what one can!."
- Source: The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs by Marlene Wilson
Submitted by Nancy Sutter, a Volunteer Coordinator for Peel Children's Centre,Mississauga, Ontario
Who's A Volunteer
As I was giving a speech on "who's a volunteer," the following thought came to me: "Since everyone says 'crime doesn't pay'--should we start thinking of criminals as 'volunteers'?"
Submitted by Susan Ellis, President of Energize
Walking Through Heaven:
G-d is walking through heaven. He comes to the area of heaven where the mice are playing. He asks: "Is everything all right?" The mice say, "yes." He asks: "Is there any way I can make things even better for you?" The mice think about it and say: "Well, you know that heaven is very big and we are very small. It's hard to get places fast." So G-d thinks a moment and gives them all roller skates.
A few weeks later, G-d is visiting the part of heaven where the cats are. He asks them: "How are things for you?" They say: "Purr-fect!" He then asks: "How could I make Heaven better for you?" And they say: "We can't think of anything, Lord, since you sent us Meals on Wheels."
Submitted by Susan J. Ellis, President of Energize. Source Unknown.
Top Ten Reasons to Volunteer
- When you stay home you get too many telemarketing calls.
- Your family could use a break from you.
- You might need help yourself some day.
- It's hard to win a game of solitaire.
- Soap operas all sound alike.
- If you don't go out each day, you get old.
- Why let your boss have all the fun in life?
- The car needs a workout.
- Your mom would be proud of you.
- Who cares about money?
Submitted by and Source: Joy Pople, Baldwinsville Volunteer Center,Baldwinsville NY
At the Zoo
A man was delivering penguins to the zoo when his van broke down on the highway. A fellow stopped to see if he could be of assistance. "Oh, I'm in some real trouble here" said the first man. "I've got to take these penguins to the zoo today, and now I'm not sure I'll get there."
The helpful fellow volunteered to put the penguins in the back of his car and take them to the zoo. The man with car trouble gratefully accepted this offer and promised to get to the zoo as soon as possible.
A little later, the man was on the road again and went immediately to the zoo. He looked everywhere but did not see the helpful fellow or any of the penguins. In a panic, he drove back into town. Just as he was wondering what in the world to do next, he saw the "volunteer" walking across the street with all the penguins waddling along behind him.
He ran up and said, "What are you doing here? I thought you were going to take the penguins to the zoo!" and the volunteer replied, "I did, and we had such a good time there, we decided to come into town for ice cream."
Moral: When working with volunteers, clear instructions and good training is always necessary.
Posted CyberVPM by Sandy Leonard. Source Unknown
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