How Can I Help?
What to do when a charity mismanages its volunteers.
From the volunteers' point of view, their hours appear to be a lovely gift—and indeed they are. Volunteer help, though, is not really free labor for the organizations; they need to invest in management so they don't waste that time. It's certainly not too much to ask that they set up a system by which they manage to call you when they say they're going to. It's also not too much to ask that you do some investigating to find a place with its act together and then to get yourself in the door.
Constance Casey is a former New York City Department of Parks gardener and writes the monthly "Species" column for Landscape Architecture Magazine.
Photograph of woman shrugging by Jupiterimages/Getty Images.