The “U” in Volunteer – by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
I am the President of the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) at my daughter’s school this year, having started as Treasurer when she was in First Grade, moving on to Vice President, and finally being the lucky one to wear the “Grand Poohbah” hat, but with no fancy swearing in ceremony. I am a go getter, so being the President, for me, is much more about getting things done in the school than it is about the leadership role. I joined as an active member five years ago, and have been on the run ever since, with no regrets. But since my daughter is in the fifth grade, this is her last year at the school. Since I also work at the school, I will always be an ad hoc member, but it will feel strange to not have the connection that I have felt as a parent these past years. So I am serving my final year with gusto, to leave a “legacy” but to also make it special for my own kid. Getting into the foundation of the school, and understanding it’s inner workings has been a huge help to me. I know all of the staff, and many parents, and working in Kindergarten gets me face time with those excited parents who are all abuzz with what Kindergarten will be for both them and their child.
It’s always great to see those new faces, and some returning parents too. The PTSO is the spoon that stirs the pot. Teachers are there to teach, office staff is there to run the business of education, and of course there are maintenance and building people too. But the PTSO has a special place that gets to do the fun stuff. We GET THINGS DONE. When I first joined the PTSO there were few members, board members were scarce, and there were nearly no programs to utilize all that money the fundraisers were bringing in. Really – there was cash sitting in the bank that had no direction as to where to spend it. Since the previous board had moved on, we were left with little information as to what plans had been made. That left it up to the new members, which is the way it should be. As I have sat in different positions on the PTSO, I realize that there have been many parents before me, and will be many, many more after. Each group is unique, just as each group of students are. During these past five years we have needed computers, playground improvements, have started a food sharing program, and have put money toward the Positive Behavior program in our school. Who knows what the future students of our school will need? Parents of former students tell me that we have a great PTSO in comparison to years past, and that is a terrific compliment. I’m sure that the future PTSO Board will do great things as well. All I know is that I have enjoyed just about every minute since I went to the first meeting.
Volunteering is something that you either do or don’t do. You either want to make a difference with your time and effort, or you are ok with others doing it. Before I had my daughter, I don’t remember ever doing anything beyond donating unwanted stuff to the local Goodwill. In the past five years I have more than made up for it. It’s almost addicting – getting into events like school dances, and spirit nights at the roller skating rink are fun, and seeing the kids’ faces light up with excitement is a big payoff. I have found a part of myself that I did not know was there – one I wouldn’t have otherwise realized was there without the opportunity to be a part of something like the PTSO. The PTSO is always needing volunteers, but it’s sometimes hard to ask for help – and especially who to ask. Eventually someone will, like me, attend a meeting, and with some hesitation fill the open spot. And they will love it, just like me.