At a volunteer leadership conference at the start of this summer, I was asked to describe what my neighborhood team looked like. I looked around me to see other people creating perfect diagrams of their team structure, and I felt a little panicky. I didn’t really know what the structure of my team was. “Well,” I thought to myself, “I think I know who my team leader is…”
Throughout the summer, I helped to build up my team, Northwest Fort Collins. I had individual meetings with supporters, made phone calls, hosted events, and registered voters. I listened to volunteers and tried to find the best place for them on our team. I had meetings with our team leader in which we discussed the future of the team and thought about how to best get new people involved. I had days when I exceeded my goals and felt like I was truly making a change in the world, and I had days when I felt like I was accomplishing absolutely nothing.
I plan to continue as a team member for the Northwest team, but last Tuesday was my final phone bank with the team as a summer organizer. As we sat around preparing for the phone bank and talking about what the phone calls would look like for the night, more and more volunteers walked through the door. Some of the faces were familiar, belonging to team members that have been with us from the very start. Other faces were new to me and were there to support us for the very first time.
Tuesday night made me realize that I will never have a perfectly structured team. Teams are dynamic, shifting groups of people. Sometimes people get sick and can’t enter data, or they are busy with their kid’s softball game and can’t come to one of our meetings. However, if everyone contributes what they can, we can work together to make a change in our country. Being an organizer has its frustrations and challenges, without a doubt, but when you get to know people and form relationships that can change the world, organizing is completely worth all of the frustrations.
As the Summer Organizer Program comes to an end, we're looking for a new team of fall fellows to build on the hard work of organizers like Caitlin. If you or someone you know would be an awesome organizer, apply here and be sure to spread word of this opportunity to your friends.