My Volunteer Life

I had agreed to move to Montpelier for a 3-5 year span, before we moved on—hopefully to someplace bigger and more metropolitan. I’d been living here for three years, always with one foot out the door the moment we made it big, or won the lottery, or [insert fantasy here]… After that time, I could no longer deny that we were here to stay for longer than anticipated. I started looking around for ways to meet more people and volunteer opportunities. I’d like to say this wasn’t a resignation. Once I changed my mind about my present situation, and accepted that I needed to hunker down if I was to be happy, I felt a lot of frustration lift from me. As I walked around town, I tried to find out where I fit.

Initially, I wanted to “do something” with literacy. Bookstores and libraries were my favorite places. But I didn’t really care to teach. Or do something as mundane as shelve books at the local library. I wanted something meatier. Most places I found needed ushers, ticket sellers, envelope stuffers or board members.

I had also thought about volunteering with Montpelier Alive (aka MDCA), the downtown revitalization organization. I’d had some experience with the Brattleboro group, BaBB, and thought at least, it would be interesting to see how this one operated. Plus, I’m a downtown girl. I didn’t know much about the organization or what it did. My own inertia kept me from approaching them.

So I was fortunate enough last September to be working at the shop when Montpelier Alive’s Executive Director Suzanne Eikenberry walked in and introduced herself. She’d come to meet the new owners and invite their membership. I asked her about volunteer opportunities. She mentioned something about selling buttons, and perhaps doing some mailings. I probably crinkled my nose. I know I shook my head.

“How about office work? Something I could add to my resume, perhaps?” That’s when she suggested helping her with the weekly e-mail newsletter that I now write. Once I was trained on the process, I was able to work on it from home. It’s now how I spend my Mondays, cutting and pasting and rewriting press releases and calendar items, so it can arrive in inboxes on Tuesdays. I love it.

I’ve been writing the newsletter since last September, and through this one task, I’ve learned about organizers, presenters, artists and activists simply from the listings they send along. The list has grown by a third, with open and click-through rates higher than the industry standard. I’m pretty proud of what I do, and receive compliments here and there.

Actually, I won an award. Continue reading