When Do I get Involved with Community events and Organizations

When do you get involved, anyway?

By T. Myers

At a recent community vitality meeting there was a discussion about how the community learns information. The conversation quickly turned into something else though, when the talk led from supporting organizations to events. It became more about why someone would sponsor or support a community event instead of the original topic of how we get the information we have about our local area.

First we have no daily news. We have no weekly newspapers, but we do have two ad papers, the Wisebuys and Frontier Advertiser. We have a radio station in La Pine- KNCP 107.3 FM radio. Sunriver has the monthly Sunriver Scene that is dedicated to the owners association in Sunriver. We have the Chamber newsletter, the Senior Center newsletter and a variety of homegrown blogs and Facebook postings. I have a section of my own website that is the La Pine News and another that is Newberry News- both featuring up to date real articles about what is happening locally.

People here share local news through the grapevine called the Pinecone Express. Others post to their Facebook accounts and followers. So getting info, unless you are one of the people who is working or volunteering with an organization is not always available.

The community calendar is different everywhere at every agency or organization. There is no common calendar. Events happen- many times without consideration of times that could be overbooked with many different events to choose from. Other times there are events scheduled to fill a mission, repeat an annual fundraiser event or repeat something that has happened historically.

We live in a time of immediate gratification. We live in a time where younger folks- not folks my age so much, but some- go to the cell phones in their hands and link up to a place, event or organization to find out about what they would like to do or know- and there is no pre- planning, save the date, or any old fashioned way to handle a commitment to an event they choose. (RSVP means I am Relatively Sure that it is Very Possible that I will come).

When locals plan events that are not being supported, they wring their hands and ask how I could have marketed this differently. The answer is that they could not have done better because it is different when you are marketing now. In La Pine we have a substantial population that reads the paper every day. Some of the older folks are even online! We are lucky to have choices here. The newsprint papers also have gone online, with websites and streaming and we can find out information by looking at google! There is even a new app designed by Wisebuys where you can place a free classified ad or get current information on your phone. You must understand how to reach folks now- and it won’t always be through the newspapers or print ads! It may be online through the newspapers and ad papers and their new online program! The newspapers who are modernizing will be able to serve a wide range of folks. It means we have options in our area.

Believe it or not it will come down to marketing being relative to benefits for the consumer. Time, energy and spending are tied specifically to the immediate notion of “what am I getting for my dollars and time?” And, if it is not easy to get info, if the price is not right and the benefits do not outweigh other options, YOU LOSE!

There is however the other part of this conversation.

Besides the “what do I get if I support this?” part, there is another aspect that needs to be addressed.

I heard someone ask “who is leading and who is following?” Meaning ‘what is the reason behind the event or project?’ and “who is leading the way?” and finally “Why should you follow that leader?”

Maybe it is time to address the idea of perception of leadership. We have plenty of leaders in our community and lots of events and activities to choose from. It is time to get clear about who the people are who are organizing, setting up, running and tearing down the events. The people who are the hands on ‘get my hands dirty’ sort of leaders are the ones who are getting things done in La Pine.

The folks who are seeing that traditional activities keep running their course every year- those who put up the Rodeo, the Frontier Days, the Trunk or Treat, The Christmas Craft Bazaar, the Holiday Light Parade, the Crab Feed, the Rhubarb Festival, the Let’s Pull Together clean-up, the Senior Center activities and classes, the Adult Ed Classes, the LPRD Sports programs and After School program, the Library events, the SCOOTR activities, the Christmas Basket Association and all of the other events showing their own leadership. Add to those, the Community Health Center programs for sports check-ups and student clinics, the Community Kitchen Meal Programs, the St. Vincent social service and retail operations to raise funds, the La Pine ReStore and the Habitat programs, well, you have leaders who are giving in many ways to the community at all levels.

The leaders cannot keep up the pace forever, but where are the followers to step up and take on the leadership role? For those who keep expecting that these great events and services will continue ad infinitum, there may be a big surprise in store for the recipients and participants.

Organizations depend on the kindness of others to go on. It is coming to the point where without people signing on with a real commitment to take over at some of the events and activities, there will no longer be an organization to go to for help or for fun!

Who do you follow? Why do you follow? Where do you go from here? What do you support? Are you ready to be a leader yourself?

Please figure out what you are willing to do for others, which organization best fits your belief system and get committed to supporting and learning how to make your organization work better. Make sure you are certain about what you will do to get the benefits of helping others. Altruism is a big part of being human. But, it takes time and energy and commitment to work.

As for the leaders who are active now, it is time to teach what you know to the volunteers that work for you so that they can step it up and step into a leadership role for your organization. Making a manual of how things work for your organization is essential in the process. An events checklist, a procedures manual and a schedule of events and a schedule for volunteer hours is a crucial tool for a healthy organization.

Whether a membership or true nonprofit organization, leaders direct the function of the organization. The volunteers and staff who follow are the ‘meat and potatoes’ of an organization. Without both destiny takes a vacation and nothing gets done.

When do you get involved? How about now!

 

 


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