From “Know it All” to “Know Nothing” in One Afternoon

Posted on April 7, 2010

As many of you know, Areyvut has taken part in Disney’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” Program. Yes, I have written about being left on hold for hours on end, trying to understand instructions that are clearly meant for people with a higher education than masters degree and dealing with (I mean helping) the occasional confused volunteer. Though Areyvut did facilitate and partner on many Disney approved volunteering events, I was not eligible to partake in any because I am employed by Areyvut. However, a few months ago I determined that I am taking a summer vacation in Orlando, FL and that I would have to earn my free Disney day. How hard could it be?

The process started about two months ago when I realized that I was in fact going to Disney and that I wanted my free day. Then came the waiting game. Having coordinated several programs through the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” Program, I knew that I didn’t want to sign up for anything that involved someone from the host agency getting in touch with me or vice versa. I knew how annoying it could be and how unreasonable some requests for time slots and programs were…”What do you mean? Why can’t you come by at 2:45am to verify that I completed a food drive?”. I checked the Disney site everyday and finally found an opportunity with a confirmed date and time that was taking place just a few minutes from my sister’s home (I knew I could wrangle her in). We both signed up and were ready to go!

Hindsight being 20/20, it probably wasn’t the best idea to schedule our volunteering for Erev Pesach. Because the 1 millionth Disney ticket had already been promised by this time, we either had to go volunteer or lose both of our tickets…the latter was not an option and cooking and cleaning would have to be put on hold.

My sister and I arrived at the NJ Veterans Memorial Home early (even after we accidentally went to the NJ Veterans Hospital, just across the road first). Thinking I was the expert, I checked us in at the front desk. The pleasant young woman (read: teenager) sitting behind the desk had no clue who we were, why we were there or what we were supposed to be doing…we were off to a great start! About five minutes later she told us that we were to head to the dining room as that is where we were going to help facilitate the BINGO game. Thinking we were smarter than we were, she gave us directions through the massive building and we got lost after the first left.

Apparently BINGO is a big deal because the room filled up rather quickly. There were a few other volunteers (some others also earning their Disney Day and others who it seemed volunteered regularly). Brenda, the activities coordinator, greeted us warmly, perhaps to make up for the fact that she also had no idea who we were or why we were there. At this point three thoughts entered my mind:

  1. Where is the sign-in sheet?
  2. Am I in the right place?
  3. I hope my sister’s car doens’t get towed. (Side note: I thought she had parked where she shouldn’t have, not illegally, just not in the right place. That fear passed over me after I watched people park their cars on the grass, probably less okay than what we did.)

Brenda asked the volunteers for one person who would call out the BINGO numbers…everyone else would help people determine if they had actually won BINGO. At $1.00 per BINGO the stakes were high. Again, feeling as though I was the expert (and having performed on stage with a microphone – giving me the most experience), I volunteered to call out the BINGO numbers. Though I faltered a few times, Brenda assured me that I was quite gifted in the art of calling out these numbers and for a moment I considered a change in my career. Brenda if you happen to be reading this…I couldn’t always hear the numbers the volunteers were calling at me to verify if someone had won…I just said yes to everything.

After two hours of fun (it really was) my “day of service” was over. Or was it? While I was saying goodbye to Brenda and thanking her for a lovely afternoon there was still no sign-in sheet to be found or anyone of any knowledge of this program. During Chol HaMoed Pesach I called up the NJ Veteran’s Memorial Home as well as Jersey Cares, the organization that coordinated the project. Both representatives I spoke with said they were “still working out some kinks in the system” as this was the first program they had facilitated. It took a few phone calls, but I am happy to report that I received my free Disney voucher today. Yes, it was great to know that I would be receiving something for performing a good deed, but it was even better to share the experience with my sister and the other volunteers, especially at the times when I was laughing so hard I almost couldn’t see the BINGO ball. I supposed calling out I30 and having someone yell out, “Yeah, she wishes she was 30!” (FYI I’m only 29) can do that to a person.

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