Unpaid- Proof That You Care

Posted on: 05/21/10 10:55 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I found this little tidbit fascinating– “Unpaid Workers Must Care More.”

My dad, Tom McKee, over at VolunteerPower.com, brought this article to my attention. It’s from Energize’s volunteerism guru Susan Ellis in her article “You Get What You Pay For.”

I was fascinated by a story she shared in point #3, “Unpaid Workers Must Care More.” She writes:

Many years ago, before my career in volunteerism, I worked for a time as a social worker trainee in the family and child division of Philadelphia’s human services department. One day I was handed a case of a 15-year-old who had run away.  When I went to see her in the temporary shelter, she was very hostile and wouldn’t look at or speak to me. Finally, in desperation, I asked, “What would it take for you to talk with me?” She smiled slyly, crossed her arms on her chest, and said, “show me I’m not just another case to you and come back after 5:00 PM.” So I did, and it totally broke down the wall between us.

This powerful incident taught me a number of things. First, some recipients of service distrust paid workers as only being helpful because it’s their job to be so.  Second, the appearance of caring could be conveyed by doing something during unpaid time.


I think this speaks loudly to the potential power and influence of our volunteers.

2 Replies to “Unpaid- Proof That You Care”

  1. Very true, I think. Our church sometimes runs a bus ministry, bringing kids to church. I discovered that those students ASSUME we are PAID. Sometimes I casually mention that none of us are paid – we are just volunteers. They are astonished and ask “why??” We smile and say “because we love God, and we love you”.

  2. I love to see the power of a volunteer driven ministry.

    This is not to lessen the impact of a ministry led by a paid youth worker. Believe me, kids see the difference of the paid worker who just “runs program”… simply doing their time, punching the clock, and then leaving. Compare that to the paid worker who truly invests his life in the lives of kids, connecting with them through the week… it’s a noticable difference. Funny… the “connecting” with them is often the difference. A youth worker who doesn’t connect is perceived as not caring. But the youth worker that connects one-on-one is perceived as available through the good and bad.

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