Monday, September 28, 2009

Male Volunteers are Hard to Come By

"Why should I join this for?" My client grumphed at me when I told him about a social program I thought he may benefit from. "I don't like people!" He added. But I had known Harry for several months and observed that underneath his grumphness he sought out social connections with people. He had tried adult daycare* before but didn't stick with it. Eventually Harry approached me and said he wanted in. That was eight months ago -- Harry's still on the waiting list to join the program. The program matches clients and volunteers on a one-on-one basis and only folks of the same sex are matched. There just aren't enough male volunteers. It's not like there's an overflow of women volunteers, but the female/male ratio is heavily skewed and men are readily sought after.

I asked a coworker what he thought about this male shortage. In his (arguably nonscientific) view most guys don't take the extra step. They care, but don't do something about it like women do. I started thinking about what would make it easier for a guy to volunteer. One of the times I had checked in with the program worker to find out Harvey's status (still waiting -- really I was making sure we didn't slip through the cracks) she was bemoaning the fact that potential guy volunteers pick up applications but rarely mail them back. Would it help to meet these potential volunteers at a place near them to fill it out? Or set up booths in colleges and have students sit with a program rep and have them fill them out the apps on the spot?

* Daycare, really? Couldn't they choose a more appealing sounding program title?

Update (2/2/10) My client got word today that a volunteer is available! A meeting is going to be set up in the end of this week for them to meet for the first time (along with program coordinator and myself). Here's hoping it works out.

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