Thursday, May 12, 2016

Time Well Spent




My new volunteer position started at an exhibit at The Chinese Bunkhouse.

Last week, I wrote about the difficulty of navigating the volunteer recruitment software system in my community. I have been looking for opportunities to use my experience and education in retirement.
When I am in Oaxaca, opportunities abound. Teaching, tutoring English, assisting at an orphanage,
library work...it's all available. There is no tracking or criminal record checks or volunteer interviews. All that is needed is a willingness to help.

Last Saturday, I went to a volunteer orientation at the heritage shipyard museum. All of the other volunteers were students. Sunday, I had my criminal record check. It's odd to me. Years ago, I was on the board of the Information and Volunteer Society and I wrote the newspaper adds to recruit volunteers. More years ago than that, I worked for the Crime Index Section of the RCMP, doing none other than criminal record checks on a Cardveyor Index Machine (sort of like a giant Rolodex). I have been an educational professional for 30 years. As a retiree, I felt like I was suddenly worthless.
The volunteer position that I was applying for is open to 15 year olds. What does that say for my last 50 years?
Working conditions would have been very cold and damp.

Friday, I started as a Heritage Guide and Greeter. I have visited the site many times before and I had reviewed all of the material in the volunteer handbook. I was uncertain how many visitors I would greet as it was a weekday. I was given a 2-way radio and placed in the Chinese Bunkhouse building.
I had taught about the coming of the Chinese to the gold rush and to work on the Canadian railway.
Unfortunately, the indentured workers could not pay back their fare and the head tax charged by the Canadian government. They had no choice but to stay in Canada and comprised the largest group of
cannery workers on the coast of British Columbia.


The beds were barely 5 feet long. Seventy-five men slept here.

I was surprised by the number of visitors to the site. I enjoy meeting travellers and found the exhibits
fascinating. I have walked by the Heritage Shipyard many times but the major exhibits are only open when there is a volunteer guide available. I look forward to leading visitors throughout the site during the summer.  It seems that my initial difficulties with technology have paid off and I am on my way to a successful volunteer experience.

5 comments:

  1. It's good to read that you were not discouraged enough by the process to give up. The site is lucky to have you. Experienced, educated, reliable, self-starting and gracious volunteers are like gold. I know - I coordinate volunteers full time. If you'd come to my door I'd have been delighted.

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  2. Good for you! You are enriching other lives while enriching your own! They are blessed to have you! I wanted to be a docent at the revered Huntington Library near me but found that the commitment level was very demanding and would not allow for spontaneous retirement fun.
    I must thank you for your continued inspiration to persevere. I am taking a European trip without my husband who does not care to travel, in September 2016. All this initiated by you and the Materfamilias blog. Thank you, indeed!

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    1. I'm happy with this volunteer position because I can schedule myself as my time permits. Right now, I'm doing 7 hours a week but that might change. It's wonderful that you are going to Europe. I can't entice my husband to go very far but there are many places that I would like to visit.

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  3. This is encouraging news indeed, and I'm so pleased you persevered. Once I get settled in whatever new home we find, I'm hoping to seek out some kind of volunteer work at a commitment level I can sustain. Good to have someone else's experience as an example

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