Project Graduation – Cousin Chair

Project Graduation

Carla felt good about chairing the food committee for Project Graduation. She is so good at it, she makes Jesus look like a lightweight when it comes to feeding the masses. Everyone knows Carla does food. Her baby is a senior, and she planned to retire from high school volunteering as “The Mama Who Does Food.” The end.

Perhaps she was also just a wee bit smug, having volunteered through three kids, and always within her own volunteer comfort level.

Take heed! The Gods hate smug. Carla is now co-chair of  Project Graduation.

I just finished eight years at the Chicago Waldorf school, chairing two school auctions, being room parent co-chair, being the room parent for Cole’s class, doing hospitality for all major school events, and chairing the school’s Mayfair and Holiday Fair for three years. I know where the golden acorns are hidden. (If you are a Waldorf parent, you will get the reference.) Let’s just put it this way – for eight years, I spent more time at The Chicago Waldorf School than Cole. When I’m done laughing I may have an Odd volunteer tip or two or thirty for Carla. But first let me share her story with you.

Tonight I went to the first Project Graduation meeting of the year. Project Graduation is a huge all night party thrown for the graduating seniors on the night they graduate to keep them from going out and partying and drinking and driving. It is a year-long under-taking and lots of fund-raising has to be done to support it. Our current graduating class is currently about 360 students and probably 300 of them will show up for the party.

I am no fool, since this is my third time at the graduation rodeo, so I knew I needed to sign up for something before the meeting ever began. As usual I chose to chair the food committee well in advance of the meeting so I couldn’t get bullied into doing something yucky.

One of those wonderful “Power-Moms” had organized the meeting. You know the type, nice, friendly, always smiling, kids always get top grades and are usually involved in student government. These “Power-Moms” are identifiable as soon as their kids pop out. They are the ones that always carry healthy snacks, plenty of diapers, their kids are always clean and wearing matching clothes purchase from The Children’s Place.

After going through all of the committee assignments, the history of Project Graduation and various fund-raising opportunities the Power-Mom took a dramatic pause. She explained that in addition to working full-time (delivering babies, no less) and having three younger children after her current senior at home (one of them special needs, no less) she has been accepted to post-graduate school. Closing her eyes, she takes a deep breath and announces that after much “prayerful consideration” she decided she was not going to be able to chair Project Graduation and she was hoping someone in the room would step forward and take the responsibility.

As I explained, I am far too wise to raise my hand and volunteer for anything. I sat quietly, secure in my knowledge that some willing idiot would step up and do the job.  I’m daydreaming about laundry and suddenly I hear my name. I look up and see that a woman who works in the school office, who by the way does not even have a kid graduating this year, has nominated me to be the chair. Shocked and sputtering I cried, “I couldn’t possibly!  I’m doing food!”

This shuts her up, until another Mom jumps up and yells, “How hard can food be?  I’ll do food.”

“But, no,” I yelled, “It is really very involved.  I really can’t commit to more than food!”

“Oh, are you working full-time now?”, another Mom asks.

“Well, no”

“Isn’t Abby your youngest? This is the last chance you’ll have,” says one of the other faceless people who must hate me.

So, I’ve just been called out for having no job, no other kids and no reason that I wouldn’t have time to do this.

Suddenly there is shouting and cheering and I’m not really sure what happened. I don’t know, but I must have temporarily blacked out, but then I came to my senses and demanded, “Someone would have to co-chair with me then I would consider it.”  Damned if a mom I had thought of as a friend didn’t stand up and say she would co-chair.

This is when I thought of you, Katybeth. I feel sure that at some point you have felt just like I did right then. How did this happen? Why would people think I should be in charge?  Was it because I was weak? Was I too easy a target? Does it say “I’m stupid, I’ll do it” on my forehead? I felt like Mikey the Life cereal kid. Let’s get Carla, she’ll do anything!

I am embarrassed how easily I succumbed to the pressure. Am I really that desperate for the approval of my peers? I haven’t told Abby (my senior) yet (YIKES!) or my husband (YIKES x2!) How does one say, I think I just signed away the next 7 months of my life?

Carla welcome to Co-Chairing an event. Grip your Starbucks  Ice Grande, double dirty chai with 5 pumps of Chai and non-fat milk tightly because you just rose to a new level of school volun-tear-ing.

My first piece of advice? When someone agrees to do something but adds ” but please remind me.”  Don’t suggest they find a way to remember without you, they won’t. I will be back to share more tips soon, perhaps odd readers have a few tips to share, as well!

Odd Loves Company,


9 thoughts on “Project Graduation – Cousin Chair

  1. “They are the ones that always carry healthy snacks, plenty of diapers, their kids are always clean and wearing matching clothes purchase from The Children’s Place.”

    I hate them!!!

    Got a kick out of this post, Katybeth…I used to be a volunteer extraordinaire, but gave it up several years ago…it was taking over my life! I’m much more relaxed (and happier) now.


  2. How come all those parents who say we should volunteer more are always they one’s that never seem to show up? They make their Almighty announcement “Thou will volunteer” and figure their job is done?
    I have always enjoyed volunteering at my kids school but have always avoid the place were the buck stops. I’m very sensitive when it comes to blame…oh and I cry easily, thats my story when I have been asked to chair anything.

  3. Of-course THAT mom–I know her well can spot her heavenly eye rolls miles away.
    Good luck, you were doomed from the start…but I’m sure you will make the best of it and it will turn out great.

  4. Man, you were just suckered in. I finally broke the code when Katybeth was out of Radford. I’d volunteer to do something but then NEVER go to the meeting! That way they couldn’t guilt me in to doing more!
    Honestly tho, I’m looking forward to the “after” story!

  5. Just keep in mind most of the people will appreciate all you have done for them because they will be so glad they didn’t go to the meeting and get suckered in!

  6. Sister-
    There’s nothing you’ll love more than being in charge of this event. There’s a certain feeling you get at the start of a great adventure who’s outcome is uncertain. Just ask Custer, or the Trojans, or Amelia Earhart. Good Luck!
    P.S. I think I’m busy that day . . .

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