I have a habit of planning events that no one (or almost no one) attends.
Exhibit A: I planned a pick-up game of soccer in Columbus last year days in advance. Loads of people (okay, a half-dozen) said they’d come. I stood on a field by myself for at least a half hour and then went home.
Exhibit B: I planned an Alternative Gift Market at the college on December 4 and 5, 2009. The event ran for a total of 8 hours, staffed by 50 student volunteers who spent an additional 2 hours each prepping for the Market. But to no avail. Our attendee grand total was precisely 30 people–that’s 3.75 people per hour. Do you know how empty a space can look with only 3.75 people in it?
Mercifully, today’s Volunteer Fair was not Exhibit C. Thirteen community organizations, including Big Brother/Big Sisters, The Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Wayside Soup Kitchen/Food Rescue and Winter Kids (a sweet organization that provides ski passes and fun winter activities to kids for free!) attended the Fair and enthusiastically engaged nearly 70 students in conversation over the course of two hours. Some of the students came to just fill out a raffle card (an incentive to attend the Fair) or to gather information for a class, but a number of the students caught me as they were leaving to say that they planned to make time to volunteer with one organization or another.
An exuberant (small, blonde) first-year resident informed me that she signed up to be a Big Sister. “Only my Little will be bigger than me!” she giggled.
Another student, one particularly tall basketball-type male, told me that he planned to commit to a mentoring program with Learning Works because he “wanted to be a good role model and stuff.” (Trust me, it was an inspiring response from a twenty-something who came on a class assignment.)
By all important accounts (ie, student involvement/attendance, professor support, and community partner satisfaction) a success. And that warms my little service-geek heart to its very depths.