Every year, sometime between July and November, NPS gathers all of us (well, as many of us as possible) and we have a party. Awards are given out, lunch is served, and we all leave with a lovely parting gift.
But here’s the thing. I’ve gone to probably 8 or 10 of these parties, and not once had I been invited up to receive any kind of award. Not even when there were totally made up awards. They usually gave them to the same people every year. Let me be clear: I don’t volunteer to get awards. I’ve never gotten an award (other than a service pin after a certain number of years) for any of my other volunteer jobs, and that’s fine. I only point that out to say I was prepared for this year to be more of the same. I had even told my Logistics boss, Stacy, that I was going to the party but I wasn’t going to get an award. Again.
So I show up at the party, sit through the initial welcomes, and they start with the “Shout-Outs.” Basically, Rangers and Volunteers were given the chance to praise a volunteer about something. The people who were named received a Centennial water bottle packed with fun stuff. I sat through all of them, and my name was not called. More of the same. Don’t get me wrong, all of the people I volunteer with are amazing. They all deserve awards. But, you’d think, just once in almost 12 years of volunteering, I would rate SOMETHING.
Next, they gave out the Volunteer Centennial Challenge Coins to all of us who had volunteered at least 201.6 hours this year. As I was only a handful of hours away from hitting 500 for the year, and I submitted the form with an extra 136 hours on it, I KNEW I had this one in the bag. They said the names would be called alphabetically by first name and all of a sudden, they were calling out “Theresa.” And I still hadn’t gotten mine. Well, turns out someone must have dropped the folders or something, because I did hear my name called and I received my coin and letter from Director Jonathan Jarvis.
After some group awards, the big rectangular box came into play. Everyone knows what that award is. Volunteer of the Year. As our Volunteer Coordinator called a guest Ranger up to the front, the people running the Power Point got a little trigger happy, and my picture was suddenly up on the screen. Umm, what?! Sure enough, Stacy, Logistics Ranger Extraordinaire, came up front, said what I’m sure were some wonderful words, but honestly I didn’t really hear them, and I was walking up to get my award.
Totally in shock. I was shaking and almost crying. They gave me a chance to talk and of course I rambled–but I did get to tell the short version of Mr. Tippins’s story again. Wow. I was not prepared for that. So many people had such kind words and hugs for me during lunch. It made me feel really good. And I guess if you have to end an awardless streak, this is the way to do it.
I promise to use my power only for good and never for evil. 😉