This weekend, I volunteered for the Poppy Run with a close friend. Overall, it was a decent experience but I think a lot of things could have been done better. But a timeline of the event looked somewhat like this:
Saturday – Training:
We were told to meet at Lumberman’s Arch Concession Stand on Saturday at 1PM. There was a funnily hatted short man named Raymond, who was, for some odd reason, the leader of the event.
He gave a 30 minute speech, mentioning that there was an estimated turnout of 300+. From that point, he randomly handed out volunteer positions without concern for who’s qualified for what.
I was given the position of Course Marshal, a position that supposedly required a good sense of direction. Without Google Maps and a Smartphone GPS, I would’ve been lost.
There were only 3 drivers, who for the most part, were really kind people in general, and the lack of drivers was a major bottleneck. Raymond (the leader), had seriously mis-coordinated all the vehicles, and kept volunteers for more hours than actually needed (the whole lecture was 30-40 minutes, everything else was waiting for a car to pick us up and show us the area we would be). What ended up happening was, us spending the next 2 hours in bored solitude until Raymond came back and told us just to go home.
Well, thanks Raymond!, you wasted 2 hours of my life that I won’t get back.
Sunday – Event:
I had to wake up at 6AM, take the Skytrain at 7AM in order to get to Stanley Park on time. He requested us to arrive at 8AM, an hour earlier, but that time was squandered anyways by his lack of coordination, English skills and the inefficiency of a single person dictating the jobs of others.
We collected a single sign, as well as a safety vest. A kind driver, and her friend, both Capilano U students took us to our stationed tent. It became really apparent that we lacked the proper safety equipment, and garbage disposal facilities.
There was literally no point of our job. Our station had too many people, mostly idling. We lacked another sign for the second side of the road, so there were 1-2 near accidents of cars and runners.
On the bright side, I did meet a fair number of fun people, mostly high school students and the Capilano U drivers.
We had 2 giant water jugs, which weren’t put to effective use because we only managed to use 1/5 of a bottle. It turns out that only 50 marathon runners had come out of the 300+, due to the poor weather, and most of them didn’t want water, so we ended up offering whatever we had left to the sparing number of random hikers.
By the time the race ended, we found out that Raymond was already inclined to just leave us there without any drivers coming. It wasn’t until another kind driver came along and provided us a ride for us, and our equipment back to the starting point, against Raymond’s orders to start picking up others until hours later, failing to realize the bottleneck in place.
The thing with having one leader is, it’s horribly inefficient. This one person is seemingly coordinating an entire event. Allegedly, there were “team leaders,” but in reality, I didn’t see them do anything different apart from us. Because all volunteers needed to report to Raymond, there were serious problems in trying to talk to him, coordinate with him, and get a hold of him in general.
From that point on, it was expected we stay for a few more hours in order to get a group photo. The only entertainment was the RCMP Bagpipe band. I simply just left early in the end.
Raymond, if you have Google Alerts or something setup right now for the Poppy Run, let me just say, there were are a number of things that should be addressed.
- There needs to be multiple leaders and coordinators for different parts of the event, because the current dictator policy was bad for all the volunteers in general. It was confusing, and discouraging to me, as well as my group in general.
- I need vehicle safety signs for both sides of the road. Like literally, you almost caused an accident.
- It wasn’t clearly defined what your fundraising tent is raising money for.