I am now a high-level volunteer. Again.
My first time round volunteering, this was my goal. There is no level higher, barring appointment to committee or staff.
My first time round, I applied as soon as it was humanly possible, and was denied.
It hurt. I even thought about quitting.
But I also couldn’t fault their reasoning. Rather than focusing on the goal, the criteria, the requirements, I started to focus more on just helping the animals, the staff, the other volunteers.
I never re-applied. The high level status was given to me as a surprise one volunteer meeting. There was even cake and tears.
But being a high-level volunteer meant more responsibility. Living on property meant more responsibility. My job began to have more responsibility. My body needed a break and I wasn’t giving it one and it started to break down.
Coming back, the memory of that was very fresh in my mind. It haunts me. How ineffective I became at everything because I couldn’t concentrate on anything. It is a horrible blow to your ego to feel like you haven’t gotten one thing right all day.
I couldn’t tell you what is different this time. More accurately, I couldn’t tell you which thing that is different is making the difference. But for some reason, I’m able to hang on more. Prioritize better. Say no every once and a great while.
Therefore, I couldn’t say no to this.
Ever since the winter break, I’ve been doing some high-level jobs around the sanctuary without the title. (That was the cause of the awkwardness – feeling like I was overstepping my bounds even though it was specifically asked of me.) It was made clear that it would be a big help if I asked to be promoted. So I did.
I felt a bit like a fake, receiving my new shirt. I had told several people that I wasn’t interested in getting promoted up the ranks again. And that was true. But what is truer is that I’m there to help the animals, the staff, the volunteers. And six years experience was being wasted if I didn’t.
In case you’re wondering, being a high-level* volunteer means that I can lead a feeding route, hand out medications, and work with the leopards, tigers, and lions. I also will have more responsibility in training the low and middle-level volunteers.
*That’s not what we call it, but we have a distinct “low, middle, high” structure that makes it easy for me to write about in those terms. And yes; I’m pretty sure that is improper hyphen use. Thanks for asking.