How i First Became a Volunteer and my Experience

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Updated: Jun 24, 2022
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Civil Engagement (Critical Thinking, Social Responsibility, Written Communication) What is “Still Bowling Alone”? Someone with no background knowledge would think that it actually has something to do with bowling; far from it though. It is actually about a widespread concern of the weakening of civil engagement in the U.S. within the range, but not limited to, the dropping attendance rate at public meetings, family dinners becoming a thing of the past, and trust within one another is decreasing. In the article they bring up another article, “Better Together” and both of these articles agree on the fact that there are two ways in which America could be civically restored.

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The first is by “encouraging adults to socialize more”. And the second is “by teaching the young, whose habits are more malleable, to be increasingly socially connected”. Using these two techniques ensures that we hit all of the population…and hopefully soon enough we don’t need to focus on the adults because the adults will then be the teens that have already been socially connected for years.

The article talks about 9-11 and the political effect it had on us as people, for the teens who remember 9-11 it peaked their interest in politics and many worked towards pursuing an education in politics. This article starts off by saying how as a nation we are losing trust in one another and no longer being as socially involved as we have been in years past, but the article ends with saying how many of us are socially involved in other ways. Technology has changed our way of living as is continuing to do so. Today “graduates reconnect with lost classmates on Facebook” and we share our instant thoughts on Twitter. Being a freshman at Texas A&M I haven’t found many ways yet in which I can be involved in my community but back home I was involved with my church, over the summer I volunteered at the church’s Vacation Bible School. Which is a week-long “camp” in which the parents drop off their kids every morning and we do a worship and then relate a craft activity to the lesson and then also somehow tie in a creative snack. This way we could also give the kids a visual of what was said at worship.

My role was to help keep the kids in check because there would normally be a huge turnout, be there for the kids if they had any questions about the worship, and then to just be someone for the kids to connect to. My previous experience I think refutes the argument because personally I have been involved in my church since grade school, personally my family always found time to have dinner together, even with all of our activities, and I won’t say I didn’t grow up without technology, but I was never too dependent on it, neither were my friends. (Sander, Thomas H. and Putnam, Robert D.) Question 2: Link – Question 3: Socialization (Critical Thinking, Written Communication) The sociological theory is a set of statements that seek to explain problems, actions or behaviors, it is possible to do so with the 3 models; symbolic interactionalism, structural functionalism and conflict model. I did my 10 hours of volunteer work at the Brazos Valley Food Bank.

The BVFB was a unique experience for me, because of the people who I volunteered with. I remember back when I was applying to volunteer here I was looking at the individual volunteer FAQ’s, the specific question that I was looking for was “when can I volunteer?” and one of the answers was, “During these walk-in volunteer hours, individuals could be working with a mixture of court-appointed (misdemeanor crimes), class required, organizational, local business, scout troop and high school student, etc. volunteers.” … court-appointed stood out to me. As I am someone who has never been in trouble with the law, or even been associated with anyone who has I am not going to lie I was a little uneasy by the thought of having to work with someone who could possibly be of danger to me, but I knew that if it really was a danger they wouldn’t allow us to work together. Part of the reason I chose to volunteer at the BVFB was because an organization I am a part of also volunteers here.

My first time going to volunteer here was with this group which made my experience different to my following times. When I went with my organization I didn’t have to interact with the individual volunteers because they had assigned my group to do something different than the others. My second time volunteering was on my own, and I was nervous because I knew I would be doing something different than what I had done with my group and that it was possible for me to be mixed in with different types of volunteers. Before I get into how I was socialized into the organizational culture here is the definition, a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs which governs how people behave in organizations. It took me a couple of shifts to feel like I had finally been socialized into their culture. The tasks we did were simple ones, but one could easily see who felt comfortable and who didn’t. Starting my second shift everyone was quiet, people had their headphones in, no one was talking, we were all just doing what we were told to do, so I just followed along. Towards the end of my shift, a girl had asked me “so why are you here?”

I had answered saying it was for my sociology class, and I naturally asked her the same question. She responded by telling me that she was doing community services for her DUI. That’s when I first looked around and realized that for some people it was more noticeable to pick out those who were there by force because of the law and those who chose to be there. I feel as though during this shift I did not feel anticipatory socialization, because I did not wish to be a part of the group who was forced to be there. My third shift though, that is when I felt the anticipatory socialization taking place. Headphones were gone (which I wasn’t surprised by because we are not allowed to have our phones out), and I had met a girl who was in a sorority, like me, and a guy who was in a men’s org, people more my style. They were there volunteering because they wanted too. Although the internet didn’t play a role in the actual volunteering, the way we signed up for shifts was through their website.

And mobile devices weren’t allowed when we were in the warehouse because they are a distraction, and there was always so much work to be done that they provided lockers for us to put our personal items. (woods. September 5th) Although this is the 4th assignment I decided to hold back on this one and do it near the end. I think a lot of the times we think one thing of a place and as we get to know it better, we began to form a completely different opinion on it. There are three things that show the presence of a bureaucracy here the first is how the charts are organized, the second is the pure fact that they had a chart already made and, on their website (chart 2), and the third is my personal experience I had working with this organization. What I mean by “how the chart is organized” is how there are divisions of labor, just like Max Weber states in both the reading and as well in our notes. One can see that in the black and white chart it is more broad showing more specifically how there are 4 positions on the board of directors and that then there are the different positions that people can volunteer for.

And the second obvious reason showing that the Brazos Valley Food Bank has the presence of a bureaucracy is the sole fact that they had created their own chard and put it on their website showing the division of labor, hierarchy of authority (just like we had learned in class), a person is assigned a certain job and them doing only that job. The charts aren’t the only place that the characteristics of a bureaucracy are present in, they are also present in the daily function of the organization. For example, a hierarchy was present when all the volunteers would get told to go ahead and move onto another task. We, as volunteers, didn’t just get to walk into the warehouse and do whatever we wanted to do. We were told by either the assembly coordinator or the warehouse coordinator when we were able to go ahead and start to work on something else or when people could leave because everything was done for the day. It was also conveyed in how we did our work.

For example, when we would be doing the food sorting, we didn’t just pick up cans and put them into random bins, we had to sort them first by type of food they were (beans, breakfast foods, vegetables, etc) and then put them into smaller bins that were filled only to a certain weight. The BVFB has this rule set into place so that when the bins get sent to where they need to be, they are receiving equal amounts of carbs, proteins, vegetables, etc. This is showing Weber’s characteristic of “the authority to give the commands required for the discharge of these duties is distributed in a stable way and is strictly delimited by rules concerning the coercive means, physical, sacerdotal, or otherwise, which may be placed at the disposal of officials.” (Weber, M) The use of a bureaucracy affects the mission statement of “The Brazos Valley Food Bank unites our community to nourish our neighbors in need” in a positive way. The way I look at it is the BVFB has been around for a long time now, and they have used this system of bureaucracy this whole time and they have only been growing each year and becoming more and more successful. It also affected my volunteer experience, I am someone who likes a plan and likes knowing that what I am doing has a purpose behind it, with that being said having this organizational structure helped make sure than the warehouse wasn’t chaotic and that everything we were doing had a reason to be getting down. I would like to think that the staff thinks the same way.

If I were a part of the staff, I wouldn’t want volunteers coming in, clueless and just standing around or have them all over the place. Having someone in the role of assembly coordinator and warehouse coordinator helps keep the volunteers in an order. (woods. October 16th) Question 5: Deviance (Critical Thinking, Written Communication). Deviant behavior – behavior outside the norms of society. I surprisingly never really noticed any deviant behavior until my last shift at the Bravos Valley Food Bank. Most the time when I would go in for a shift, I was with other students who would come in with their A&M organization. Except for my last shift, there was a handful of people who were there to complete their state mandatory community service, of course, I wasn’t 100% if they were “troubled” kids until halfway through the shift when one showed deviant behavior. This day had a bigger turnout than days in the past when I had been there, which meant that although we had a lot to do, we had so many to do it they had to divide us up to do different tasks.

One of the guys who works at the BVFB had said to us “we need to cut up these boxes, so we can fit them into the compressor. Let me go find some knives.” When he had walked away one of the kids who I had suspected to be a troubled kid says, “probably isn’t the smartest idea to give knives to us when half of us are here for getting in trouble with weapons.” My very first thought was “okay. Time for me to go…. don’t want to get hurt today.” I had also realized that right after he had said that another girl, who I don’t want to say looked normal but compared to the others she looked put together, stood up and walked away. I had assumed that she walked away because of what he had said. The employee came back, without the box cutters, and I said that we were going to be put to a different job… I’m guessing because he came to the same conclusion the volunteer did. Later in the shift, I found myself talking to the girl who had stood up and walked away, I found out she is a senior at A&M and that she volunteers to round out her resumé. When we got to talking, I just had to ask her about the box cutter incident, and I was right.

She said that she had felt so uncomfortable after he had said that and that she had contemplated about leaving if they did give us the box cutters. The troubles volunteer was a perfect example of secondary deviance; secondary deviance is defined as deviant behavior that results from a stigmatized sense of self that aligns with society’s concept of a deviant. In other words, it’s deviant behavior that results from being labeled as a deviant by society. Which means, that when someone goes to volunteer at a food bank they do not expect to be scared of the other volunteers or that they will feel uncomfortable. The expected behavior at a food bank, at least in my experience, is being surrounded by people who want to help and not put others in danger. And in this case, although what the volunteer said was out of the blue, it was more expected to come from him, someone who has already been labeled deviant by the society, than from a volunteer who came with an A&M organization. (woods. 0ctober 18th &23rd) I want to start off by explaining my cross tabs. You may have noticed how they all add up to 200% instead of 100%, the reason for that is because of how I divided it up. Under high and medium level positions I have the word “staff” and under low level positions I have “volunteers” the reason for this is because the way I look at it is there is the gender, race, and class for the low-level positions (which are all held by volunteers) and then the staff holds the high and medium level positions.

So, the first two columns of each cross tab are out of 100% combined and the last column is out of 100% itself. So, when reading the gender cross tab, one would read it as, “from the staff, 14% are women who are in a high-level position and 48% are women in a medium level position. And 55% of the volunteers are women who are in the low-level position. From the staff, 7% are male in high level positions and 31% are males in medium level positions. and 45% of the volunteers are males holding low-level positions. Looking at the gender cross tab I can draw the conclusion that when it comes to the staff there seems to be a larger percentage of females, not by much but it is still there. And when it comes to the volunteers although there are 10% more females I would draw the conclusion that it is fairly even, especially because during my time volunteering I could never really see one gender overriding the other. When looking at the crosstab for race it is very obvious that white is the predominant race in all three levels, followed by Latino again in all three levels and then other, and then followed by black. I find it interesting how the rank of the most to least predominant in all three levels was the same. In my opinion gender, race, and class were things that used to coincide with what type of position someone held and/or the power they had. But in today’s world, I feel as though that is no longer the case…at least to the extremes it used to be.

Gender is definitely something that has become more equalized over the years, and now it is normal to see a woman as CEO of a company or to be the one in charge. unfortunately, I don’t think I could say the same for race, as the charts show white race is still an overpowering race when it comes to level of the positions held by what race. Class was harder to determine in the Brazos Valley Food Bank, most of the time someone can determine another class by looking at the car they drive and the clothes they wear. Doing both of these was very difficult, because of the fact that we were doing “labor” and we were in a warehouse it was difficult to tell someone’s class by what they wore because of the environment we were in. As far as looking at the cares they drove, I never got the chance. (woods. November 8th) Question7: Conclusions (Social Responsibility, Written Communication) I remember back at the beginning of the year when Dr. Woods told us that we had to do 10 hours of community service and to do an e-portfolio over it, I’m not going to lie I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit it into my schedule and had no idea where I would volunteer. Being a freshman and just moving into a new city I had no idea where I would even be able to volunteer.

But soon everything worked itself out, for my sorority we needed to join another organization on top of zeta and I had my mind set on joining the Texas A&M cupcake club. Luckily for me, this is how I found the Brazos Valley Food Bank. In the past, I had heard of food banks making food “backpacks” for the kids of families who can’t afford to feed their children on the weekends, and when I actually got to make these, I felt so good knowing that we are helping take one less worry off of their minds. I am currently unsure of exactly what I want my career to be, I came into freshman year wanting to do criminology which is why I chose the path of sociology, but as the year has progressed, I have found that my desire to do that has declined and that I am looking into more of a career with marketing and advertising. So why did I choose the Brazos Valley Food Bank? I think my reason would go more along the lines of a social commitment, having the commitment with them through Texas A&M cupcake Club, and then after going my first time with the club I liked how they treated the volunteers and how they ran the area. I think one thing that actually shocked me was the number of different tamu organizations that volunteered there.

Once I was working with girls in another sorority, there have been multiple flows who come in and work together as well. I think part of me thought that since the BVFB was way out in Bryan, and not really close to campus that there wouldn’t be many groups volunteering there, but I was very wrong. As far as social responsibility goes I feel as though it opened my eyes to see how beneficial giving back really is. For an individual to take, at most, 3 hours out of their day to go to the foodbank whether it being making backpacks, sorting food, or even just cleaning up a bit. Those 3 hours affects hundreds of children, and not just in the College Station-Bryan area. Although most of the food does go to schools in our area, a big chunk of the food goes out to other cities and other districts that can’t afford to feed the kids on the weekends. I am so blessed to have grown up the way I did, to not ever have to wonder if I was going to get to eat all 3 meals the next day, or if what I was eating was good for me.

And being able to give a total of 10 hours to help multiple kids on multiple weekends not have to worry over things they shouldn’t have to is enough to hold me accountable to my social responsibility. I definitely interacted with new people, although some I wasn’t too fond of. I would say the people I interacted the best with were the people who were involved in other school organizations. The volunteer work I had done in the past consisted of Vacation Bible School at my church, so I have never been put in the position of having to work together with others who have committed misdemeanor crimes to get the job done. I will say though that other than minor differences in the work ethic, it was no different than people who volunteered to work there. Although working with a new and diverse group of individuals didn’t really affect my understanding of myself, it did allow me to see how so many different A&M organizations give back to not just the College Station community but also the Bryan community.

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How I First Became a Volunteer and My Experience. (2022, Jun 24). Retrieved from