Volunteer? Who, Me?

We all know how volunteers are really recruited. Admit it.

You’re sitting in a Zoom meeting and someone asks, “Anyone want to volunteer for the holiday fruitcake baking committee?”

No one even twitches.

Later that night, you’re sitting at home, watching a PBS drama series. It doesn’t matter that you’ve watched so many PBS dramas during the pandemic your eyes are bleary. This one has you glued to your 48” LED screen like a kid watching Sesame Street. The phone rings.


“Hey, Fred, this is Bernadette. How ya doing?”

Fred wonders why Bernadette is calling. He hasn’t spoken with her since he spilled his coffee on her lap in the hospitality room two years ago.

“I’m so excited, Fred. We have just formed the Holiday Fruitcake Baking Committee. It reports to Program Support, although P&E is still looking at where else we might fit in. But we’re hoping we get approved. Then we’ll present to Council. It’s so amazing! There aren’t too many LLI committees with a dramatically defined purpose and a rewarding commitment to excellence. Can you believe it?”


“The committee has been growing like wildfire! We’ve got the momentum to make a real difference.”

“How many on the committee?”

“We have a few commitments, and a couple of people say they were interested in learning more.”

“How many now?

“Did you hear about Ted? He’s amazing. A juried exhibition has just accepted his photos of hummingbirds.. We spent 20 minutes on the phone the other day talking about how he works.”

“That’s terrific. He really is a talented photographer. Lauren has mentioned him a few times in her class.”

“So what do you think? We’re having our second Zoom meeting next Thursday.”

“Wow! I would love to, Bernadette, but Wednesday I’m going in for oral surgery.”

“What if we move the meeting up to Tuesday?”

“I’m meeting with your brother Bernie about congressional dress codes.”

Pause. Bernadette coughs.

“I’ll be there. What time? How can I help?”

Postscript: Bard LLI is a completely volunteer-run organization. We have no paid administrators or staff, as some other LLI’s do. Individuals and team contributions are often critical, illustrated by our recent need to move from on-campus to online learning due to COVID-19. The Online Team formed and within weeks had formulated a plan. A variety of shared ideas, suggestions, and experiences melded together and enabled SummerFest to succeed. The rest is history.

And once you do join a committee, who knew it would be so much fun? The people are smart, engaged, entertaining, having fun, and doing great work. As Laura Brown, LLI member and presenter, asked after her experience with the Hybrid Learning Team, “Is it always this much work, and is it always this much fun?” Yes!

–Gary Miller