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Government Shutdown – what are the side benefits?

4 Oct

Living outside of Washington, DC and working several days a week “downtown” in Washington, DC, it has been an “interesting week” to say the least, perhaps I should say a bit “too interesting”.

On one hand my daughter’s AP Government class has had a lot to “talk” about, is the Government going to shut down? How long will it last? How will this impact my family and my friends’ families? Note: living in the Washington, DC area many families have one or more federal workers in their families – parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, the mother of one of a daughter’s best friends. Many have been furloughed (out of work) a few are in essential positions (have to work that much harder in new and different ways to keep essential systems – some automated – working).

The commute into DC is “different”. There are a few less cars on the back roads to the Metro. There are “way” less cars in the Metro Parking garage, we can park 1, 2, or even 3 floors further dawn. There is “always” a seat on the Metro (subway) going to work and coming from work Understandable going in to DC since I get on at the 2nd stop, pretty unusual coming back out during rush hour, I almost always have to stand, packed in.

Volunteering and “Random Acts of Kindness” are trending up this week. Parents that are Federal workers that were furloughed (not allowed to work) have had a bit more time to volunteer at their children’s schools, to visit elderly parents, to help a neighbor or add an extra pair of hands to help with that church outreach project. They have time, talent and expertise and (at least) a few days off. Note this is a short term benefit, hopefully these same parents and nonparents that are federal workers have some cash reserves and savings to help pay the bills and to cover emergencies during this period when they are not getting paid.

A few random thoughts…
— Do Congressional Offices – shut down when there is a Government Shutdown and no approved budget to meet their payroll?
— I know the Government Shutdown affects the Executive Branch agencies since friends are furloughed, but what about the White House staff? What percentage of their staff are “non-essential” workers.
— I am very glad that my mail is still being delivered.
— Will my Metro fees go up “again” to help cover the shortfall caused by reduced ridership during the Government shutdown?
— When will our Congress and the White House start “collaborating”? Doesn’t hurt to bang your heads against the wall every day?
— On one hand I love the “Balance of Power” hard wired into our government systems, the checks and balances.
— But I am currently reminded of the childhood “see-saw”
— The Republicans are on one side – The Democrats are on the other side of the proverbial See-Saw
— We start off gently rocking up and down, up and down or balancing, its working out…
— Then President Obama jumps on one side and the other “Party” gets stuck up in the air
— Good new “the view is nice”, bad news being stuck up in the air gets old after a while.
— Then a few more Republicans jump on their side and the Democrats and the White House is stuck up in the air
— Then “Pundits” start jumping on alternating on either side and up and down we go – one side or the other is stuck up in the air
— Or suddenly everyone jumps off one side and the other falls with a bang – that can hurt your pride – so you come up with a new strategy to “attack”.
— Sometime both sides make up and agree to work together towards a gentler, more balanced, more civil experience.
— In my childhood, I liked the See-Saw “game”. As an adult though I wonder if our elected representatives will learn the lessons of how to “play nice” with each other and think about the good of all.
–It is great to see local businesses “get it” many are offering reduced or half priced meals to furloughed (out of work) federal workers – hopefully a win-win – good for all.

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“Mug them” the latest of 143 ways to say thank you to a volunteer…

30 Jul

How many ways can you/we say thank you to a volunteer? Please # and add to the list, thanks. LinkedIn Discussion in Volunteer Management Best Practices network

1. [Directly to the volunteer say] Thanks for volunteering today
2. Print a set of business cards for the volunteer
3. Greet them by name
4. Send out volunteer eCards…

Hmmm… So it is summer I wonder if there are any unique ways to recognize volunteers during the Summer?

Since Darlene gets credit for at least # 142 – great suggestions by the way…

Might I offer #143…

“Mug them” for years my father then later I received and proudly displayed our annual “Recognition Mug” for volunteering several days or a week at Boy Scout Summer Camp.  All in all a pretty good trade a week’s vacation and perhaps $100 or so to get to sleep in a tent, get plenty of exercise walking up and down hills through the woods, perhaps helping with a merit badge class, or helping younger boys learn Second and First Class skills, then of course someone has to help taste test the “Cobbler” and sit in on a Board of Review or 3 or 4 and attend a couple of Campfires, and did I mention drive a car full of boys about 350 miles each way – and yes I was very happy to walk down into the campfire circle each year and collect my mug and a round of applause from the Scouts.

What are a few other “seasonal” ways to recognize volunteers?

Note: my sincere thanks to colleagues who contributed the first 142 ways to say thank you to a volunteer. You all do amazing work and provide brilliant insights into year round volunteer recognition and retention.

Bruce Summers

Summers “Engagement” Consulting.

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