DEAR ABBY: I am a volunteer manager coordinating services between 200 students and tutors in an adult refugee English as a Second Language program. We benefit greatly from the skills and perspectives of young people, but the job requires volunteers to be self-directed and mature enough to handle the assignment. May I offer some advice to those who wish to volunteer for ANY program for class credit — as an intern or during summer vacation?
Understand that your assignment is a JOB. Someone is counting on you to be reliable and do it well — even though you’re not being paid. If you want to volunteer, call me yourself. Our conversation will be, for all intents and purposes, a job interview. I do not want to talk to your mother unless she’s the one looking for the assignment.
Nonprofit organizations offer volunteers work experience and insight into a life that is unfamiliar to you. If you’re not ready to commit to an assignment, ask the manager if you can “shadow” someone who is currently volunteering. It’s a great way to see if the work interests you.
My volunteers are the most dedicated, intrepid, compassionate people I have ever met. They succeed because they’re enthusiastic and sincere in their desire to contribute. They range in age from 17 to 82, but they all have one thing in common: They picked up the phone and spent time doing their own research.
Volunteering is an excellent way to make a difference in the world, especially when you understand where you fit into that world. — VOLUNTEER MANAGER IN DENVER
DEAR MANAGER: Sometimes well-meaning parents try so hard to run interference for their children that they get in the way, and rather than strengthening their children’s wings, they don’t allow them to develop. For parents of teens and young adults who are interested in volunteering and internships, I hope this letter will serve as a wake-up call. Thank you for writing.
DEAR ABBY: I am invited to a 60th wedding anniversary party. They are requesting that all the guests wear white. I think it’s unfair to ask that of a guest. I recently lost weight and will have to buy something new to wear, besides paying for my hotel and a nice gift.
I care about the couple and want to share this special occasion with them, but I’m on a fixed income. To have to go out and buy something new is a hardship. Abby, what do you think? — REASONABLE IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR REASONABLE: I think you should consider some other options than buying a new outfit. Could you borrow a white outfit from someone? Or browse resale boutiques to see if they have something? If they don’t, contact the anniversary couple and see if they would mind your wearing the palest outfit you have. After all, the white attire is being requested, not ordered.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance is a “screamer” during lovemaking. This bothers me. Is there a cure? — SUBDUED IN ALBUQUERQUE
DEAR SUBDUED: For him? No. For you, the “cure” is to learn to be less self-conscious about the fact that your fiance is enjoying himself, because you are not going to change him.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.