Monday, June 29, 2015

Does the VA hospital really want volunteers?

I decided to drive over to the VA hospital today to inquire about volunteering.  After navigating the huge parking lot and finding a spot, I walked through the park-like setting complete with a pond and gaggles of geese, and was greeted by dozens of happy faces and friendly hellos. I noticed a large number of walkers and wheelchairs and made mental notes about their designs. 

Inside of the building, an enthusiastic gentleman (a volunteer!) gave me directions to the volunteer office accompanied by a huge smile. His smile inspired me to smile. It occurred to me that it felt good to feel good.
I found the office and told the woman at the desk that I was there to inquire about volunteer activities.
 “We don’t have activities.  If you’d like to fill out a form we can let you know what sort of things are available,” she said while handing me a stack of forms.
“Well, if you don’t have activities, what do you have?”
“If you're selected, there are certain jobs that you can do to help out.”
“Oh, okay.  Well, that’s what I meant.”
“I thought you meant like parties or something like that.”
“No. I wasn’t asking about parties.”
“Just fill these out.  You don’t need to rush to bring them back.”
I folded the forms in half, put them in my tote and pulled out the sample wheelchair bag that I designed to donate to the hospital.  “I’m making some of these bags, are they something you could use here?”  Without looking at me she said, “Yeah, we’ll take those. You can just drop them off here.”  She turned her back and opened the door to an adjoining office.

Awkward pause.  
I think it was then that she became aware of my incredulous stare and tossed a half-hearted "Thank you" over her right shoulder.

I returned the wheelchair bag to my tote and walked out.
I don't want to judge the hospital's volunteer staff by one person who may or may not have been having a bad day,  but if she is responsible for the department, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to work with her.  How do I  get to the happy, smiling people? Maybe there's another entity with an established relationship that could get me closer to them? I need to think about this a little bit more. There's no way I'm dropping off my bags to her.
Decided to make wheelchair bags and donate them to the VA hospital. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

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