Wednesday, September 16, 2009


On the 1st January 2007 I read an article in the paper about a guy named Chris Flack who the year before decided to try 100 new things. He made this decision at the pub with his mates!

I decided that it was an amazing idea and alongside my family and friends (probably with a slight post New Year glow), to write a list of things to do during 2007. Mine was a bit different to Chris’s list and I included medium-term goals and also one off things. I also emailed Chris to tell him what I was doing, and stunningly he replied back; I now follow is blog and also find out what he is doing via Facebook.

I embarked on my mission with confidence and enthusiasm. I got to number 8 and then things ground to a halt altogether. My 8th “thing” was to volunteer for a non-profit organisation. I came across this organisation on a NZ website and decided to approach them to see if they wanted administrative help. I didn’t hear anything for about 4-6 weeks and then out of the blue I received an email. So I started with 1 day a week checking their phone messages. I felt as though I could do more and in typical “Vanessa” style I jumped in with two feet; at the damn deep end.

I just want to make a note here. I also wanted something to occupy my time. I felt incredibly lonely at home as Mark would sleep most of the weekend away and I was often up at 7am on a Saturday and Sunday, so for hours I would be struggling to fill this time.

Over the next 2 ½ years I dedicated a lot of my time, blood, sweat and TEARS to this worthy cause. I do not want to discourage people from volunteering for non-profit organisations, but please heed these words of warning. Think very carefully about the organisation that you want to volunteer for, do not get involved in their petty/childish games, and absolutely make sure that they have processes and a business plan that they follow. Also, make sure that they have a board of trustees to keep the committee in check.

My commitment to this organisation just about broke my marriage, my wedding nearly didn’t happen and my relationships suffered with friends and family. I now absolutely detest a couple of people that are still involved. I do think about the great things that they have achieved, and are still achieving. Nevertheless, I feel a deep sense of sadness and frustration towards their pigheadedness. I am also stunned by the utter lack of regard for other people and also adults who are just wankers and completely rude and hypocritical! Also, the absolute nastiness and bitchiness was mind blowing (even from men)!

Please do not think that I am trying to be a martyr as I can take responsibility for my own actions; however a lot of bullies worked for this organisation and I do not cope well with bullies at all. I also struggle to ask for help and instead try and tackle everything without help. I know my weaknesses, and certainly know what I need to work on.

What are the good things? I met some absolutely amazing people, and one of them is someone who I want in my life forever. I love her without conviction and I am honoured to call her a friend. We got 3 beautiful cats that have helped bring joy to our household.

Things that I think they could do better: Have a business plan. Have PROCESSES and make sure that these processes are adhered to. Don’t have one process or rule for one group and another for some else. Ensure that the committee make decisions that benefit the organisation and also adopt a consultative approach. Also, the person who started the organisation needs to be removed from the committee.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Vanessa,

    I absolutely admire your just do it spirit and sincere honesty. Thank you for sharing your journey, so glad you're still married with beautiful cats (missing mine at the moment).