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SWharton

Volunteering as a Single

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On 4/15/2018 at 1:20 PM, Twotoes said:

When any employer provides housing it is for the convince of the employer not the employee. The employer want its employee to be close by. When you volunteer it is not about how much the hours are worth. The free RV site is given as a convince to the employer so that you will remain close ro the volunteer site and show up, and show up on time. It is an additional benefit to the employee who is not getting paid to have a camp site at no cost. The value of the camp site or hours worked is irrelevant. 

Anything an employer provides is for the "convenience of the employer".  Even as a volunteer, you are an  "employee".

I oversaw the volunteer program for a Federal agency, but two levels removed from the initial supervision.

Volunteers are great. I made it a point to see that volunteers got the best assignments and living conditions possible. The advantage to the agency was that we had members of the public that understood our mission and could communicate that to the rest of the public. That was a huge benefit of volunteers.

Lots of people in government think volunteers are "free".  Their not, they do cost the agency lots of money. The ADVANTAGE to volunteers is that in almost in all cases you get REALLY GOOD EMPLOYEES!!  One of my points was always  was that it is a good pool to find future temporary employees!!!

The best Ranger Districts for volunteers knew this. The worst....well, they treated the volunteers as someone that was there. The best Ranger Districts paid their volunteers the per diem rate. It wasn't much, but it helped the volunteers and definitely sent a message that they were valued, and got per diem just like an employee.  

One thing about volunteering. Do what you love. We had "volunteers" doing trail maintenace, butterfly surveys, photographing of historic sites, etc.  Volunteering is more than campground hosts.

BTW...IF you have handy man skills and can fix things like water systems, doors, tables, etc. note that on your application. Those are the folks that are really difficult to find.

And thanks.....to everybody that has volunteered.  


 

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If you feel you need to put a $ amount on your volunteerism you should get a job!!! I look at volunteering as giving of oneself for the benefit of others.

Edited by SWharton

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1 hour ago, SWharton said:

If you feel you need to put a $ amount on your volunteerism you should get a job!!! I look at volunteering as giving of oneself for the benefit of others.

True, but the park or what ever should make you feel wanted and appreciated.  We are seeing to many up the hours to 24 to 30 hours per person for a simple campsite.  When you look at the value for a site and utilities you find a couple putting in 48 to 60 hours per week and they are appreciating you to the tune of $3.00 per hour or less.  If they had to hire an employee, it would be for a heck of  lot more plus benefits.  Then they expect you to clean up filthy bathrooms as well.

No thanks, we go to where we are appreciated.

Ken

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You should have the hours and duties defined prior to accepting a volunteer position. I wouldn't volunteer for a position with excessive hours or duties.

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26 minutes ago, TXiceman said:

True, but the park or what ever should make you feel wanted and appreciated.  We are seeing to many up the hours to 24 to 30 hours per person for a simple campsite.  When you look at the value for a site and utilities you find a couple putting in 48 to 60 hours per week and they are appreciating you to the tune of $3.00 per hour or less.  If they had to hire an employee, it would be for a heck of  lot more plus benefits.  Then they expect you to clean up filthy bathrooms as well.

No thanks, we go to where we are appreciated.

Ken

In all our volunteer gigs we were ALWAYS made to feel appreciated.  Dedicated volunteers don't compare the value of the position.  They are there because they want to be there.  They want to help out our parks.  They just enjoy being in the surroundings.   We've met some that put in a lot more hours on their own than was expected.  If there weren't volunteers for those positions things wouldn't get done.  The agencies don't have enough money to hire people.  I think you have the incorrect idea of volunteering.

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I have been volunteering for over 6 years now. It seems like the requirements for the volunteer are going up. It used to be only 24 hours a week. Now most want 30/32 hours. With the personnel shortage most agencies are experiencing the paid employees (park staff) are making volunteer workers do the work they don’t want to do. It’s difficult to even find a camp host job that doesn’t require a volunteer to clean toilets. I didn’t retire to volunteer to clean toilets. I had one State Park want me to pay them for the background check to volunteer for a non paying job. One State Park wanted me to volunteer to work 7 days a week, saying it’s only 4 hours a day. No time off to explore the area. It’s getting to the point that I would much rather pay for my site and not volunteer. 

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10 hours ago, Twotoes said:

I have been volunteering for over 6 years now. It seems like the requirements for the volunteer are going up. It used to be only 24 hours a week. Now most want 30/32 hours.

I have seen that also, especially for federal agencies. But we also learned that at least some of the managers with the USFWS will pay lipservice to those rules coming out from above while only asking for those hours if critically needed and then only for a short time. The national parks are asking for 4 days a week for just an RV site in the more popular parks such as Yellowstone and Everglades. We did the same job in Everglades as do the seasonal rangers but they were paid $15/hour and had to pay about $200/month for shared housing while we worked one day less for only an RV site. That is the reason that we have not gone back to any national parks in several years. 

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As many have already said, it depends on the needs of the facility.  My wife and I have work kamped/volunteered as a couple and as a single.  One campground only need her so I had lots of free time.  Another one only needed me for security so she had lots of free time.  We were at another that only needed one person yet they allowed us to do the job together.  That was a lot of fun too.  Flexibility is great.  It can take a bit of extra digging to find some of the opportunities for singles.

Best regards,

Richard

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as for my life "now". i can not volunteer. as the dot rules say i must give my employer a log page for every hr ageist my 60 hrs a week allowed by law.

and the the company "rules" about rest, and driver fatigue. yes even out in my yard gardening on my days off, are labeled as NOT resting.

now when i retire from a life of driving a rig for pay, sure i can give some of my time for the "odd" job for a site.. and?  for a couple months.

heck sounds good walking around a camp ground as the dicktatter forcing people to do what i say.  (said tongue in cheek).

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On 4/15/2018 at 3:20 PM, Twotoes said:

When any employer provides housing it is for the convince of the employer not the employee. The employer want its employee to be close by. When you volunteer it is not about how much the hours are worth. The free RV site is given as a convince to the employer so that you will remain close ro the volunteer site and show up, and show up on time. It is an additional benefit to the employee who is not getting paid to have a camp site at no cost. The value of the camp site or hours worked is irrelevant. 

I'm not sure I agree with that. I live at a place of business, in my trailer. The owner already owns the land,  so it costs him nothing to let me stay on a small piece. He also pays my electricity. He once told me that my RV was a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of heating and cooling his building, lighting that building during the day and the parking lot at night. So what I am getting has more value to me than it does to him. Now does the time (work) he is receiving from me compensate him in the reverse? Of course since he is getting services for something that basically costs him nothing. It's not about "location" as much as he is receiving (basically) free services and in return giving me a free place to live. 

I think in the situation Twotoes speaks of it is basically the same...the "employer" already has sites....giving one away costs nothing and he receives a service in return for giving away the site. That basically gets the "employer" free labor. 

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13 hours ago, Big5er said:

I'm not sure I agree with that. I live at a place of business, in my trailer. The owner already owns the land,  so it costs him nothing to let me stay on a small piece. He also pays my electricity. He once told me that my RV was a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of heating and cooling his building, lighting that building during the day and the parking lot at night. So what I am getting has more value to me than it does to him. Now does the time (work) he is receiving from me compensate him in the reverse? Of course since he is getting services for something that basically costs him nothing. It's not about "location" as much as he is receiving (basically) free services and in return giving me a free place to live. 

A great deal of the answer to this is also dependent upon who you are a working with. There is a very fine line between volunteer with benefits and barter income. A "for profit" business is a little different from something like a national wildlife refuge or historic site where they build RV sites specifically to attract RV owners to do volunteer work there and do not rent them or offer them to the public. In the example, each party believes that they gain more value than they are giving up which could be considered barter. With the wildlife refuge there would be no RV pad expense at all if not to attract the volunteers. The argument in either case can be made that this is no different than it is to give your working time & skills to an employer in return for a paycheck. We have done many RV volunteer positions, as recently as 2018, where we did receive an RV site and some amenities in return for our services to a public agency. I like to believe that we were volunteers because we gave more value than what we received and because we did enjoyed what we did there and that was the attraction. Barter versus volunteer with benefits is a very complicated issue and has long been debated on RV forums. I prefer to think of myself as a volunteer and I never reported barter income, but the only way to be sure would be to go to court over it, which I don't believe has ever happened. I did read of a case with a commercial RV park where the IRS ruled against both the RV park and the RVers on the basis that the park had paid employees living off-site who did the same type of work as the RV workers but that was more than 10 years ago. 

The IRS has discussion about what constitutes barter for tax purposes in Topic No. 420 Bartering Income and also in  Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Imcome. Like most things with the IRS, this isn't easy reading. I suspect that we are all pretty safe because the amounts of tax that would be involved are so small that it isn't likely to get IRS attention. 

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I recognize the need for volunteers in many locations and can appreciate those who choose to do so.  I don't have a problem with your attitude about volunteering at all Kirk.

However, if you want to do some serious soul searching on the subject, just ask yourself this simple question.  Would I still be here doing this work for no pay even if I had to pay fair market value for the accommodations, benefits, and amenities I am receiving for free?  If the work you're doing is important enough to you that your answer is "yes", then you are definitely a volunteer.

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1 hour ago, chirakawa said:

However, if you want to do some serious soul searching on the subject, just ask yourself this simple question.  Would I still be here doing this work for no pay even if I had to pay fair market value for the accommodations, benefits, and amenities I am receiving for free?  If the work you're doing is important enough to you that your answer is "yes", then you are definitely a volunteer.

My best answer is yes, as we do still volunteer when at home, driving about 35 miles each way, 1 or 2 times each month to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, but in all honesty I probably would have done less of it when fulltime if we had not received the free sites. With our budget we couldn't have afforded to do so but would likely have looked for a paid position at least part of the year. 

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7 hours ago, chirakawa said:

I recognize the need for volunteers in many locations and can appreciate those who choose to do so.  I don't have a problem with your attitude about volunteering at all Kirk.

However, if you want to do some serious soul searching on the subject, just ask yourself this simple question.  Would I still be here doing this work for no pay even if I had to pay fair market value for the accommodations, benefits, and amenities I am receiving for free?  If the work you're doing is important enough to you that your answer is "yes", then you are definitely a volunteer.

I know this was directed at Kirk but thought I'd reply that "yes", we would still volunteer if we had to pay to stay but only  if it were in national and state parks.  We love the parks and want to help out for all to enjoy. It's gratifying and know that it's appreciated.

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