Despite the frigid temperatures, a group of parents gathered tonight to continue working on fundraising and plans for the After Prom at Mount Pleasant High School. The biggest item on the agenda was the impending Art Auction slated for this Saturday. In addition to the works of art that the auctioneer will be bringing, we’ve gathered donations for a silent auction. I’m impressed with my fellow parents: a week in St. Lucia, a Cole Hamels autographed baseball, a $200 Disney gift card, a 3-day weekend at a beach house in Avalon, restaurant gift certificates, winery tours, brewery tours, paintball excursions, oil changes, pizza and gift baskets and massages... The list goes on. We wrapped up the list of what we still have to do and then turned our discussion to our common theme: how do we get more parents involved? There are about 200 graduating seniors and yet we only see about 12 to 15 of the same faces at the monthly meetings. Why is that?
It’s common in all the groups for which I volunteer. Band boosters: about 15 people at each meeting. Choral boosters: about eight people at each meeting. Public Policy committee: about 10-15 at each meeting. And yet, just open your facebook and read your news feed. If yours is anything like mine, there are countless people complaining about things: elected officials, things not being done right in their community, crime, etc. Yet who is raising their hand to help?
I offered a suggestion tonight. We should send a flyer to each of the seniors in the class via their English class (they all attend that class so we can reach them all there) and tell them that we’ve cancelled the After Prom (in LARGE print, ALL CAPS, and B.O.L.D.) and then in small print at the bottom, continue the message... Unless you get your parents involved. One of the other parents pointed out the obvious flaw in my plan. The majority will only read the headline and will then assume it’s cancelled. Period. We’ve decided that it will be best if we can get phone numbers and make personal calls to each of the parents. Due to privacy policies, we can’t just ask the school for the numbers, so we’ll have to lure them in. I have a few plans for that.
But honestly, it gets tiring trying to figure out how to get people to just raise their hand to help. Once you do get involved, it’s fun. You get to know new people. You get to help make sure your own kids have a great time. You get to figure out who you’d really like your kids to hang out with... And you get to, as a friend of mine once said, “Justify the space you occupy and have fun doing it.”
I’m reminded of a poem I once heard that I’ve never forgotten. It’s called “We the Willing.” I have no idea who the author is, having memorized it at least 40 years ago.
"We the willing led by the unknowing
Are doing the impossible for the ungrateful
We have done so much for so long with so little
We are now qualified to do anything with nothing."
Ever have one of those days? I’m sure you have. And yet we persist because we know that there are some who ARE grateful and we know that what we do DOES make a difference.
If you’ve got a solution to my “get the parents involved” scheme, let me know.
If you’re feeling unappreciated for the things you do, consider this my letter to you of thanks. What you do does matter.