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| Angela Cook | Letters

We have a "people problem"

This is an open letter to the Board of Directors, our paid contractors, anyone who has served on the Board in the past, and anyone considering a board position in the future. We have a “people” problem. We’ve had this problem before, and it has almost taken down this association more than once in my 22 years as an active member. I shouldn’t have to tell grown adults how to behave, but I feel compelled to do so.

There are three types of volunteers in the association: those who want/need to be in charge, worker bees, and those who prefer to pay dues and let others run things. Everyone had a place, and we welcome all volunteers, or at least we should. Problems arise when the first group (all type “A” personalities) clash. I am one of those type “A” people! I understand how frustrating it can be working with volunteers who may have the best intentions, but who don’t always follow through. It’s tempting to just take over and can also give us the feeling that this is our own personal Association, and we know what’s best for everybody. I have spent years trying to overcome this mentality myself.

At the core of our problem is the way we treat each other. Because we are all (mostly) volunteers, we have to move at each person’s pace and availability to help out. Also, volunteers are only human and make mistakes. Since we can’t fire people, we have to learn how to look past faults and treat people with more respect. We’re going to have personality clashes. We just need to tolerate people we don’t like or agree with.

It seems that some folks have forgotten the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. How many of you like to have people talk about you behind your back? Then don’t do it to anyone else! Do you enjoy being attacked at meetings? Then don’t do it to anyone else. Do you see where I’m going with this? You can ask questions without being a pit bull with a bone. Conversations and new ideas should be met with the attitude that this person might have something helpful to add. Nobody should be greeted with anger and ridicule. Nobody wins when everyone is angry.

And as I can personally attest, we get less patient and tolerant when we get older. We also get set in our ways and don’t want any young upstarts telling us how to run OUR Association! This is a toxic attitude that has cost us many good volunteers. If you are one of these cranky people, I implore you to get some help! There’s even medication available for those of us who need a little help pulling the stick out, so to speak.

As dysfunctional as we are sometimes, we are still a family. We just need to remember to treat each other better. And if you think I couldn’t possibly be talking to you, I probably am.