Not long after I got the news that Ruby had been accepted at the fabulous Morris Jeff Community School, I got my first volunteer solicitation email from the parent group looking for willing folks to serve coffee and tea at the school’s booth at Bayou Boogaloo. I signed right up, despite the fact that Ruby would not even put on an MJCS uniform for another four months or so.

And I had a great time. I met some other parents; I met some board members; I met some teachers. I am pretty sure I even worked a shift with the principal.

A few months later, my mom, my husband, and I all helped get the playground ready for the start of school. I remember kneeling on the concrete in the August heat, absolutely drenched in sweat, swinging a hammer and thinking, “This is so much better than paying tuition. I love this!”

Over the next couple of years, I became increasingly involved – room mother, frequent bake sale contributor, school fair volunteer. Somewhere, there is a picture of me, nine months pregnant with Georgia, balancing a clipboard on my enormous belly to write receipts for the sale of school T-shirts. I proofread Gala invitations. I coordinated the silent auction. I led the opening ceremonies for Field Day. Eventually, I joined the steering team and now I am the communications chair, which means I promote all the major fundraising events, moderate the school’s Facebook page for parents, and write and design the weekly newsletter.

It’s fine. I enjoy a lot of it. I still think it beats the hell out of paying tuition, and I adore Ruby’s school and believe in its mission and love the community of kids, parents, and teachers.

But I am burning out.

At a steering team meeting last week, I actually found myself saying, when a new volunteer opportunity arose (they are never-ending, truly): “Hey, when do acceptance letters go out? We need to go after the new parents. They will be way more gung-ho than we are right now.”

Even the principal nodded in agreement. We need some fresh blood.

I have heard people complain before that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work in a setting like this; I have also heard other moms say that PTA groups are cliquish and catty. I certainly haven’t found the latter to be true – although I suppose I could be too entrenched in the clique to see it. We’re definitely not catty, though. We’re too busy to be catty. (And frankly, too nice – I really think everyone on the steering team is genuinely nice. I am probably the snarkiest person there, and I am really nice.)

“You’re not going anywhere,” the board president said mock-sternly to me and Jason, a friend and fellow parent who has headed up the dads’ group for several years. “You two are not allowed to leave.”

Jason and I made faces at each other. And then I shook my head. “You know we’re going to keep doing this forever,” I muttered to him.

“I know,” he muttered back.

We will, and I know we’re both grateful that we have the opportunity to do it.

But the new parents better step up. We need all the help we can get.


Do you volunteer? Why or why not?