By: Korie Marshall

Have you ever felt like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew? What have you done if you’ve realized a project or a role you’ve taken on is too big for you?

I’ve seen TV series about people who start home renovation projects and then need professional help to finish them. I’ve heard plenty of stories about people who have tried to fix their car and ended up having to pay the mechanic way more to fix a mess. I’m sure there are many professionals that take on a project they wish had never been started by an amateur.

But what about volunteer work – who takes over when a job gets to be too much?

Nothing is truly free, and it seems to me that the more I get involved with non-profit organizations, the more I recognize how much work goes in to them, and the more I have to recognize how little I can do at once, or by myself.
I know why lots of people don’t want to be on boards. If you’re not on a board and simply a volunteer, you have a say about exactly what you do, and how much of your time you can commit to it. But once you join a board, it’s never that simple. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s not worth it. Non-profits and the volunteers that run them are necessary and the work can be very fulfilling, but it can be very stressful. I have found it has been like starting a new job, where I have to learn how things have been running, how they are supposed to run, and I really have to consider what I know how to do, and what will be the learning curves – and there are a lot of them. Getting to know the rest of the board, and the membership, learning how to work with them takes time too.

It’s easy to say “so-and-so should have done this,” but sometimes you take on things you don’t know how to do. Maybe you think you can figure it out, maybe you give it a shot because no one else is willing. Maybe you screw it up, you lose some information, or don’t do something right. It is always easier to look back and see what should have been done than to look ahead and know what you need to do. Then at some point, either you have to go back and try to figure it out, or you give it up and let someone else try to deal with it.

I imagine everyone involved in organizing Valemountain Days this year did far more work than they thought they were signing up for. It seems like there have been some fairly public disagreements and controversies, and I don’t know if that might be expected with such a big event that has been such a cornerstone of the Valemount community for so long.

As a relatively new member to a few boards, and as a community member who values the work and effort of everyone else who volunteers, I hope that people can give each other the benefit of the doubt. Things always change, and it may not always be for the good, but it can take some time for things to settle in.

And if you really want to support a non-profit that means something to you, or if you want to see change, show up to its next annual general meeting, and be willing to put your name in to stand as a board member.