I don’t know how many of you get the NMRA Magazine. I know it is an optional “upgrade” to your membership. If you don’t, you should think about it for next year because I plan to have a series of articles. 🙂 Joking aside, I figure if I get one or two helpful hints it’s worth it. I always like to read what Charlie Getz, the current NMRA President, writes in his monthly article. Whatever your opinion of him, he seems to be in touch with the general membership. His article in the October issue is about volunteering. I want to quote part of it because it is so well stated:
“… on rare occasions, I receive a negative comment about the Association with the remark, Why don’t you people do something about this? You can see the common thread here – that is the use of the term “you.” In fact, there is no “you.” There is only “us.” Volunteers do the overwhelming work of the Association. That includes me, the BOD, our other Officers and Department Heads. It includes all Regional and Division officers and boards. When you attend an NMRA event, it was organized and is run by volunteers. Those volunteers are not people who can be ordered to volunteer; rather, they are truly volunteers who believe in helping the Association do a better job. We rely on our volunteers. That means we rely on you. If you have not volunteered locally or on the National level, ask yourself why not? All of us give of our time and sometimes our sweat to help the Association. We do so because we receive far more back than we give. We do so because we believe in the Association and, as members, in our responsibility to help make the Association even better. We also believe that by volunteering we help the hobby.”
“Volunteering can also have a practical benefit. If you are in the Achievement Program, the Volunteer Certificate counts toward earning your Master Model Railroader (MMR). However, the main reason people volunteer is that they have a strong desire to help. All model railroaders have that desire as shown by the number of articles in the magazines or clinics given by average modelers on some technique or method. Volunteering is an extension of those activities. Rather than write an article or give a clinic, you help the Association in doing a particular task that needs doing.”
“… if you’d really like to help, consider running for office at the local, Regional, or National level. It can be very rewarding to have a say in the future of our Association at every level of our operation. Getting involved in this way teaches you about the Association and, more importantly, about yourself. It need not be difficult, and it need not take an undue amount of time. As with any volunteer job, the limits of your efforts are entirely up to you… We rely on our volunteers, but we also value them. We want your experience to be a good one and want to work with you to be a success. So, the next time you have a great idea, please share it with us, but more importantly, why not offer to help implement that idea?”
I am reminded of how Blaine said he wanted to run for an open position on our Board and after a year step back. However, things turned out quite different, for the better! He has had some great ideas. When he first brought up the idea of the boxcar races most people were a little confused and he was told, “It’s your idea, why don’t you implement it.” Boy, did he! So many have benefited from that one idea!
Many of us on the Board wear multiple “hats” and if not re-elected would still continue to volunteer on a committee or in some other way. If you are interested in being on the Board, elections are coming up again soon. Let me know and I will get you on the ballot.
I have lots of family duties but I am still able to volunteer. I may not make as many meetings as I would like but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I can. Maybe you want to start slow, that’s OK. There is always a need for someone to help at train shows or even our monthly Division Events.
I found myself feeling just like Gerry Leone, MMR who wrote, “… as a lone wolf guy, I discovered I enjoyed meeting and getting to know other modelers. And I enjoyed the fact that I was ‘giving back’ to the hobby.” I didn’t know that I would like participating and being part of a group as much as I do. The friendships and getting to know others is a benefit to putting in the volunteer time. I know many other hobbies and associations are pretty closed to sharing new ideas but I have found most model railroaders ready to share their ideas and expertise with others. As we share our time (volunteer) we are rewarded knowing we have helped others and maybe even made new friends and that way we can enjoy the journey together!