September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

How much is too much for the community?

By Kelli [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

How much is too much? How involved is too involved? At what point do you stop doing family things to do community things? At what point do you stop doing community things to do family things?

Both my husband, Scott, and I are civic minded people. We believe in giving back to the community and trying to make the world a better place for our children.

Scott is on the fire department. I am on the library board. Scott helps with sporting events at the school where he teaches. I am on the Parents for Progress committee at our children's school. Scott goes to as many drama and music events his students are involved in as practical. I am involved with trying to give input to the school administration on drastic budget cuts they are facing. Scott recently became trained as a storm spotter. We are both blood donors.

And, we have two young children.

I got to thinking about all of this as I sat at a recent school board meeting. I watched the school board members, at least one of whom is a dairy farmer, and thought about how they have already had a very, very long day - at least as long as mine and maybe longer. They are involved because they care. They certainly aren't involved for the money or the glory. What do they sacrifice to be there? Do they have children at home who miss them? Do their spouses and children have to do extra work so they can be there? Is it worth it?

I returned home the day of that school board meeting 14 hours after I had left in the morning. Why? Because I want to make sure my children receive the best education possible with the money the school district has available. Was it worth missing a night at home with my children for? I don't know. Time will tell.

I have been involved with volunteer organizations where one single person can make others feel unwelcome and unappreciated. How much of that do you put up with if you believe in the cause? No matter how good the cause, there will always be at least one difficult person in the group. If their behavior is something that really bothers you, when do you say enough? Do you say it to the individual or the cause/group as a whole? If you lay in bed at night and rehash things that were said that get under your skin, is it time to get out?

What if you think the cause is something so worthy you can't walk away from it - say helping those involved with domestic violence or organizing a Cancer Walk-a-Thon - but the management is so poor that you are more frustrated than excited about what you are doing?

Quite obviously I have been a little stressed by the amount of irons I have had in the fire lately. It's really hard to know when to say when. They always say if you want something done you should ask a busy person ... but what if you are the busy person? Should you sit around at home practicing saying, "no?"

They also say 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work in any given organization. If only the 10 percent of membership could motivate some of the others to get and stay involved! But how to do that?

We are a country that responds well to crisis. Organizations come together to solve a problem or sandbag or donate when a family is in need. During regular times, we are not so good at working together and overcoming differences. I think that is sad.

The organizations I have chosen to be involved with are things I believe in and I try to give my time freely, but when the amount of time needed grows and grows, it is tough to remain enthusiastic.

Maybe a good indicator that there is too much going on is when you find yourself writing your column for the newspaper at 10 p.m.

I need to go now so that I can get enough rest to do my day job.

Kelli Boylen is the director of the Northeast Iowa Community Based Dairy Foundation and a former Dairy Star staff member. She lives in Northeast Iowa with her husband Scott and their two elementary-aged children. She can be reached at [email protected].[[In-content Ad]]


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