Hi, I'm Aries28 and I'm a volunteer addict who is burning out...

I have always volunteered with things. Always. I can’t remember a time even as a child I wasn’t involved in volunteer work. I love it. I pour myself into it and as a result sometimes I feel taken advantage of. Some of this is on me…I take on too much…and some is on others who seize my nature of wanting to help and using every single ounce.

My work in the past has primarily been with intercity schools and kids in the Birmingham, AL area. About 3 years ago some life situations happened that made me have to step back from that role and focus on my family. I gave it up and it was very sad but the right decision for me at that time.

Cut to January 2009 I very unexpectedly lost my job. I had a lot of free time on my hands so I picked myself up and dove into another volunteer opportunity and have been doing it since.

I’m involved in a 12 step recovery program for adults that follows the traditional 12 steps of a regular AA deal but specifically identifies Christ as the Higher Power. Same process…same steps…just Christ instead of whatever you want your Higher Power to be.

I colead the overall group then I also lead a smaller women’s group. My ladies are working on issues ranging from addictions to eating disorders to suicidal tendencies to getting over a difficult divorce.

Things have been moving along but lately we have had several leaders stop coming/drop out/pull away and it is putting a lot of the burden on just a few people. Mainly me and one other person truth be told.

We meet weekly and I’m finding that the day before our meeting things haven’t been taken care of. Meals haven’t been arranged. Music hasn’t been set up. The topic or lesson or step work hasn’t been established. Lots of running around at the last second and in my opinion we aren’t doing this to the best of our abilities.

I am now faced with a decision of trying to muddle through and keep on plugging away at letting the leadership know this is becoming a serious probem or deciding to become one of the leaders that drop out.

I believe overall in the program and I personally have seen tremendous growth and success with many people in the program. I got to hand out a 90 day chip last week and it was just an awesome moment. I love the participants and I know that for many of them this is definitely what they need right now (combined with an outside program that isn’t just a weekly deal).

But, I feel burned out by all the additional stress. I’m feeling it physically, mentally, emotionally, at home, at work, etc.

The easiest thing is to probably drop it but I honestly feel that if I do then the program will be on its last legs. Not that I think I MAKE the program but I am pulling a lot of the weight right now.

At the last leadership meeting I point blank told the committee I do not feel supported by our Director and various other leaders and that one or two people cannot continue to keep the program going. I feel that all I got in return were some excuses and empty promises about trying to help more in the future.

Not sure there really is a complete answer for me right now but wonder if anybody else has felt the volunteer burn out and what you did to manage it?

Yes, I’ve had a similar problem, although I don’t want to describe it in detail. Can you find someone (a friend or possibly someone from your church or any church in your community) who can help you with the group? Then you would have a bit more time to try to work with the leadership/committee if you think that would be worth pursuing.

Damn, you’re singing my song. I find the only things I can do are:

  1. slowly reduce my input and move on to other things that focus on my own development, hopefully preparing the people who are to come after me;

  2. find an excuse to drop it altogether that’s so strong even I’ll be convinced;

  3. get so burned out I drop it altogether, with no excuse.

Yeah, I had to quit a volunteer project of long standing because the decision makers were destroying any good it did. I stayed longer than I should, convinced I could keep helping the people who needed help, but I ultimately saw I was supporting something that had become insupportable. It needed to crash and burn before it could be remade, so I had to withdraw to let it do so. A few years later I hear the new director has turned it around, so I may investigate returning.

I have recently told a friend I am going to start engaging in some religious bartering…or blackmail if you want to call it that… “Oh…you need somebody to watch nursery next week? SURE! I’ll be happy to do it…IF you sign up to bring a meal for CR next month.” :slight_smile:

Yep. This is the one I don’t want to get to. I think we have had several strong leaders get to this point recently and the participants like consistency and if one more leader backs out I’m afraid it may be the end for the program.

This is where I’m afraid we are headed. There is some talk that we really just need to gently oust the current director and appoint someone else. I think that would solve some of the issues but not all of them.