We have one guiding principle at RISE when welcoming new volunteers: If you see something that needs to be done and no one is doing it, that means you're in charge. For many organizations, this concept may be a little too chaotic to practice in their day to day operations. Understandably, it is much easier for "leaders" at the top to issue a clear set of instructions to those underneath them and to implement disciplinary protocols for those who do not follow their orders. Though this model is effortless to implement and control, we believe that it siphons creative energy into mechanical, routine procedures.
People want to volunteer the way they want to volunteer.
Our job as organizers is not to issue a set of rigid instructions, but to identify a common goal and support our volunteers in realizing their potential to create positive change. We can lend them our knowledge in the field and share the best practices we've developed through trial and error, but ultimately only they can best decide where and how they can be most useful. We believe that it is this culture of empowerment that creates a sense of ownership over the project among our volunteers and truly makes RISE and Dine
a community owned and operated event.
When we first started RISE and Dine
Four years ago, we had a difficult decision to make: either we put the project on hold and pursue State and Federal funding to keep our operations afloat, or we continue the project and find other ways to acquire the necessary resources. Though there are many great organizations out there that operate off the State and Federal budget, we did not want to become dependent on those funds nor did we want to become another soup kitchen. Again, there are many organizations that function in this regard and we admire them for their work, but it was just not the style we were looking for.
We believed that surely there must be others in our small community that had a need inside them to help others, they just didn't know where to start. So we took the plunge and decided that succeed or fail, we were going to run this organization in a way that reflected our morals. We put an ad on craigslist in early 2012 stating that we would be at the Community Assistance Center every Saturday at 5pm serving a homemade meal to our houseless neighbors and that anyone was welcome to join us. The response from our neighbors has been overwhelming and has been the driving force of our model ever since. It was then that we discovered that people are not looking for instructions on how to help, rather they are simply looking for permission.