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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Recognition...or Self Satisfaction

This is my husband Dung, as some of you may recognize when I take his picture while running he automatically assumes the pose of Superman.  Well today was his big day.  The close of the Atlanta Track Club Season.  My husband was one of 13 people out 19,000 members who completed the full Grand Prix Running Series, 14 races.  The day had a fun 1 mile prediction run that I have to admit I blew our chances to win.  My husband had carefully planned a 9:30 finish and I had repeatedly promised to let him pace.  Of course we got out there, I saw other runners I was feeling good, I wanted to pass them, we finished :22 seconds too fast.  I am still in the process of making it up to him.

It was a great day; the 1 mile was followed by a breakfast and informal awards ceremony where ATC thanked members and volunteers.  They recognized achievements like age group winners and point leaders, dedicated volunteers and "Energizer Bunny" runners like my husband.  Following that we went over to the Atlanta Beltline to get a real run in and ran the 10-K course an hour before the official race.  This was great because we could then watch the racers and cheer those folks on like others have done for us.

All of this was great and then we get back home and we always like to visit ATC on their Facebook Page and either thank the volunteers or staff or see how everyone felt about the event or race.  That is when we saw several folks who were recognized at the event in a couple of ways, but apparently not the way they wanted.  The Facebook page wasn't full of great job, or enjoyed the day.  It was full of complaints that they should have received a plaque or should have been called out and recognized for their volunteer efforts.  It may be true that ATC might have missed thanking someone. They did repeatedly thank all volunteers and all members for making the club a success.  I should mention they also have 12,000 volunteers.  I guess I really question 2 things.  If you have been a satisfied member of the club and a dedicated runner and volunteer why wouldn't you just contact ATC in private and not splash it all over the Facebook Page for all too see?  I can only guess the idea was to embarrass ATC,  really acts like this only result in embarrassing the people who do them. 

Lastly, I have a bigger question.  If you are so upset that your volunteer efforts went unheralded are you volunteering for the right reason?  The reward in volunteering is selflessly helping someone else by using a skill or resource you have to help someone or something improve.  Isn't the self satisfaction of knowing you helped someone find their love of running enough?

I know what I am talking about because I am a volunteer, not with Atlanta Track Club.  I prefer to do all of my volunteering in my professional field of water.  Believe me or ask anyone I know I love to volunteer.  I spend after hour time and weekends working on these projects and activities and I have never once thought when a fellow volunteer was recognized or I did not receive a special thanks: "what is wrong with them?  Don't they know how much I did?"  Instead I know they know what I do, because they keep asking me to help.  The satisfaction of knowing I helped further my profession seems to fill any need I have to be singled out.  Why do you volunteer?  Is the payoff  someone will give you an award...or that someone you helped will be recognized for their achievement.

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