Written by Carol Barry

“Family. Like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” Zig Ziglar

Greetings! I am in awe each time I blog about the amazing accomplishments of Assistance League® of Greater Placer volunteers.  I have learned so much about our chapter’s long reach into the Placer County communities.  Regrettably, for the past few months, I’ve been plagued with what is usually referred to as “writer’s block”.  It’s a first for me and has nothing to do with any lack of activities to write about by our wonderful Assistance League members. Earlier this week, I finally broke the spell, setting words to paper on a memoir I’ve wanted to write for many years, yet couldn’t figure out how to begin.  Yet even today, I chose to prune the Yarrow and water the Mulberry Tree instead of immediately sitting down to blog after breakfast.  I am truly ashamed of myself for not honoring my commitment for several months.  How can I explain?  Perhaps an analogy will help.  After twelve or so months in COVID captivity, during which I had no problem singing the praises of our Assistance League’s stellar creativity during a time filled with a bucket full of hindrances, I just shut down.  Can anyone else relate?  Seems strange that just as restrictions began to lessen across the country, and I have been safely vaccinated, my desire to express myself on paper died.  Yes, died.

During my self-imposed exile, our chapter honored our ‘20-‘21 Board of Directors and welcomed a new slate of selfless, talented women to lead us into 2022.  I sat in awe at our first “in person” monthly meeting in over a year as these energetic and generous souls were introduced.  Why didn’t I feel energetic too?  I have served in many leadership capacities in my lifetime, going all the way back to Girls’ League President of my high school in 1960-61.  Normally I love the electricity that sizzles in a room full of brainstorming minds seeking to solve a problem or bring a new idea to life!  Where did all that joy go? Is it just me down here in the doldrums?

I started to wonder why people like me volunteer to work on the deck of the Thrift Shop, or in the hold serving on a committee, yet hesitate to step out onto the bridge.  This is a BIG question!!!  So I asked some members of our Board of Directors why they chose to serve on the Board and was blown away by their answers!  I’d like to share a few of these with you (somewhat paraphrased):

Board Members Have Fun!

Readiness: “I turned down Board positions for ten years. I really liked all the people on the Board and when one member had to step down due to health issues, I felt I was ready for the job.”

It’s easy for some people: “A year and a half after joining Assistance League, a friend of mine was going on the Board and asked if I would do it too.  I said, ‘Why not?’”

Surprised myself: “Never in a million years did I think I would accept this position! But, after six years of membership, here I am.”

My age: “Some might think it is time for the rocking chair, not me. Whatever time I have left, I want to savor and utilize for good.  Assistance League gives me that opportunity, so I am going to grab it, go with it, and enjoy it!”

It’s fun working in the Thrift Shop!
It’s rewarding making lunches for those in need!

The pandemic: “I saw how precious life is, and how it can be taken away so quickly. There was still time for me to serve my community.”

Something to Contribute: “For 5 years, I just wanted to be a ‘worker bee’. My attitude was, ‘Been there, done that’.  I had background in management and realized I could make a difference.”

Opportunity for growth: “For ten years, I served on many committees and fund raisers. But I’ve learned so much from the other Board members and feel smarter than I actually am!”

Bonding with other women: “I joined ALGP eleven years before agreeing to be on the Board. We started off the year with a 2 day retreat, getting to know each other. We learned how to help each other, work together as a well-oiled machine, a winning team. By the end of our term, we danced to “We Are Family” and felt a great connection with each other.”

Just having fun: “After a 5 year membership, I joined the Board. We have all laughed over the years that if the members could see us, sometimes they would lose all confidence in us just because we have such fun, with a sometimes wacky sense of humor.”

Making Friends!
Members relaxing after a meeting

WOW . . . so many different reasons!  I also asked them each how serving on the Board was different than serving on a committee, for instance.   Again, they generously shared:

Retiring and Incoming Presidents: Paulette Benedict and Joanne Kutzman

“You have people willing to help you, wonderful people. There is always someone to reach out to, to ask for assistance, no matter where you serve.”

“You really get to know the organization better on the Board.”

“It has been the PEOPLE I meet and the SUPPORT I have received that keeps me engaged, whether it’s a committee or a board or a task force or a cluster meeting.”

“We all have different perspectives on just about anything, just like in a committee or general meeting.”

“On the Board you learn new skills, meet other members, learn more about our communities, and how ALGP affects the lives of kids and adults.  Just like on a committee, really.”

So . . .  “We REALLY Are Family” no matter how we decide to serve.  Listening to Board members share their reasons for serving and the many benefits, warms my heart and fans the flames of a love affair I have with this organization.  It also lifts my spirits, for which I am grateful.  Grateful. And more grateful.

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Teddy Roosevelt

Huge thanks to members of both last year’s Board and our newly elected ’21-’22 Board of Directors who shared their heartfelt experiences to the content of this blog.

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