Much to the contrary, I’ve always viewed myself as someone who is full of moxie and tenacity, one who “sticks it out to the bitter end.”
The decision was exhausting.
When I originally rallied a group of senior parents to organize this year’s Project Graduation for my senior’s school, I had no intention of serving in a leadership role.
I was in the early stages of planning my first trip to Europe, and as my dates were pre-determined by an event I would be attending, I was running way behind in my research and scheduling.
Having been previously involved in the organization, and having been the person to initiate the gathering, I came prepared to facilitate the first meeting, educate new members as to the association’s objectives and goals, and move on. I made that clear from the onset.
I acknowledged the flattery, and made yet another plea for people to step forward.
Volunteer organizations seem to be struggling more and more in securing manpower on all levels. I knew this and had prepared for the possibility.
I knew I would be faced with challenges. I knew I would ultimately be responsible for seeing that the group’s needs were met, that if there were shortcomings, I would be one of two people to step up and fill in the gaps. And I knew the strengths of many of the people in attendance. It’s going to be okay, I told myself.
And little did I know that I would be in the minority when it came to how people interpreted one of the fundamental principles and goals upon which Project Graduation was formed.
Some who become involved do so because they have lost loved ones to drunk driving, some because they have friends or family members who are alcoholics, some are totally against the use of alcohol, while others simply believe in the cause. I am in the latter category.
What I have discovered, however, is that though we may share that objective, this group majority and I are seeing the premise through different lenses.
Businesses, organizations, and individuals routinely offer bottles of wine as gifts and tokens of gratitude.
I heard many arguments. “We aren’t selling raffle tickets to anyone under twenty-one.” “This is for adults.” “Then you are saying we can’t hold a fundraiser at the local restaurant because they serve alcohol.” “When people show up for our barbeques, they bring coolers of beer.”
I offered compromises like using gift certificates instead of the actual product; using public parks, restaurants, and retail stores as alternative locations for a biker Poker Run. I even offered that if a group of motorcycle enthusiasts preferred, they could organize the event and donate the money to us.
But, I did not feel we should promote or sponsor an event where we sold alcohol or tickets for alcohol, nor one that directs people to a venue that is predominately in the business of selling alcohol.
“Other schools have raffled off entire cases that people have donated, and they are good fundraisers for them.” “This is what we’re doing.”
There had been other controversial issues where I was in the minority. Even though I’d received confirmation that other respected leaders agreed with me in the past, I was beginning to think maybe my logic was, indeed, wrong. Once again I reached out, and once again, the validity of my convictions was confirmed.
So strong were my beliefs that I chose to step down, to walk away from my involvement, even knowing that I was leaving during a critical time in the planning stage.
I consolidated my notes, tied up loose ends, and pulled together the resources they would need to finish out their work.
“I cannot support this and will be resigning,” I said to those I sought out for their opinions on the matter.
“Most people would have said, ‘Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Good for you,” the first person said to me.
“What a valuable lesson for your children,” the last said to me, “for them to see you standing up for what you believe in.”