1. RWL

    Declining an Honor from Your Volunteer Group?

    Our volunteer group nominated our president for the county’s volunteer of the year award. We did this (a) in recognition of her outstanding, longtime commitment to the organization, and (b) knowing that (as a bonus) the nomination itself would be publicized, therefore bringing some much-needed attention to our program as well. The nomination process included nearly 50 people, including her own children.

    She received notification of her acceptance as a nominee directly from the county. She informed the county that she would not accept the nomination.

    She has played this as a move of humility and I can certainly see that side of the argument. However, doesn’t the humility become irrelevant when the nomination comes from your own peers? Doesn’t this move over to disrespect when you decline the nomination?

    Then, when the county executive offered to come to one of our meetings and privately present her with the prize packet she received as a nominee, she was (frankly) rude about it – which led to some embarassment when I called the county executive to explain.

    Finally, and obviously this was the bonus part so it’s not as relevant in the end, a few people tried to discuss with her how much good it would do for our program if she accepted the nomination. She simply stated that she didn’t care and that it was rude that we nominated her in the first place.

    What are everyone’s thoughts please?


    • Alicia

      It is a honor, if the honoree feels they do not want to accept such a thing that is a perfectly fine thing. An honor is something we give people to thank them. To force an honor on someone is to give them a burden not a thank you. She declines the honor and you and everyone else should accept this and understand this. Some people feel very uncomfortable in the limelight. Do not force her to accept as it is thanking someone for their good works by making them miserable and that is not the kindness you would like to treat your best and most wonderful volunteers to.

    • Country Girl

      Well I do imagine this behavior has changed your and many others’ opinion of whether or not she deserves this type of award.

      It is an honor to be nominated for something like this. (Unless she was under the impression that this nomination was purely to gain publicity for the group, and didn’t feel she truly deserved it.) Though I feel your irritation at having gone through all that effort, I would personally feel thankful that the award will now go to a person who deserves this recognition and doesn’t find a nomination for a great award like this “rude”.

      • Whatever her reasons (and they are HER reasons), this woman would have preferred to not have such attention drawn to her. In future, I would suggest asking your nominee if she will accept the honor before making any official notification; as you now know, there are people who will decline. Unfortunately, there is no looking back in this case, so in moving forward …

        To answer your questions, if she declined the nomination out of humility, that is her choice; it doesn’t matter that it came from her peers, her family or the county. The issue of disrespect comes in when her choice to decline the honor is ignored. She made her position clear, yet the honor of being a nominee is still bestowed (forced) upon her, even if it is “only” at one of your meetings. While acting rudely didn’t make her look good, I can certainly understand her response — “What is it going to take for you all to get the point?”

        To compound the matter, several people then attempted to “guilt” her into accepting the nomination by letting her know how her acceptance would benefit your program. Again, while rudeness is never a good response, enough is enough.

        It is not my intention to beat up on you, by any means. This woman may have many personal reasons to explain her response which she is not comfortable sharing. An example that comes to my mind is some sort of similar experience happening in the past that went wrong and brought about humiliation instead of accolades. Perhaps she just doesn’t like the limelight. Either way, accept her as she is, be grateful for her dedication and hard work on behalf of your program, and please tread lightly next time this situation comes up.

        • RWL

          I need to clarify a couple of parts of how I worded my initial statement…not necessarily to see if it changes the response but, rather, to see what additional thoughts it might bring.

          First, the county executive offered to bring the award to our meeting as a way to take the spotlight off since that was the only concern the honoree originally lodged. It was at “that” point that the nastiness came from the honoree. Nobody ever came to the meeting.

          Second, nobody guilted her at all. A few people made the point that we are always looking for good publicity and that (since she’s always the first to be concerned about this issue) she might take one for the team.

          Finally, is there nothing to be said for how she treated the county executive who was only trying to be courteous?

          • Jodi Blackwood

            Hi RWL,
            Thank you for the clarification. It was very generous of the county executive to offer to bring the award to the meeting. From the response of the honoree, I might guess that avoiding the spotlight wasn’t the only reason she declined the nomination but it was the most “acceptable”. Again, rudeness and “nastiness” is never the appropriate way to respond to anything, especially a considerate gesture; it sounds like the woman felt backed into a corner and came out fighting.

            While “guilted” may not be the correct word, when someone chooses not to something for a personal reason and then several people explain/discuss/mention how beneficial it will be for the group and that perhaps she should “take one for the team”, this again may have put her in a corner. At the very least, it added pressure. She obviously cares deeply for the program, but should its promotion come at her personal cost? She may be all about gaining publicity, but there are other, less threatening (to her) ways to go about it.

            I am sorry that what seemed like such a wonderful thing to you and your group turned into such an unpleasant situation. I hope you are all able to work things out between you, put the matter aside and move forward.

            Best Regards,

  2. Jodi Blackwood

    My apologies … my comment was in response to RWL’s posting, and not directed at Country Girl or Alicia. I seem to have issues with clicking on the correct Reply button and need to pay more attention!

  3. WJ

    Our family is spread out across three (adjacent) states, and when we get together, it has been customary for everyone to stay over night. The problem is that no one has a very large house, and only two out of the three have what might be called a proper guest room.

    All in all, we are eight adults and seven children strong (ranging in age from 2-11), all trying to cram into one house on air mattresses and rear-end-up against children’s desks and toys (we’re often camped out in a niece’s room, amidst piles of stuffed animals merely pushed aside as our accommodations).

    Last get-together, my husband and I decided that we would stay in a hotel with our children rather than suffer sleepless nights and bad backs from having slept in close quarters on the floor. My sister-in-law okay’d this ahead of time, but it seems to have been a very unpopular choice for us to have made.

    There is another event coming up soon. My sister- and brother-in-law have kindly offered to stay in a hotel, and I’m not sure how to accept this gracious offer without seeming inhospitable. What I said was, “Of course you are always welcome in our home. At the same time, we appreciate your thoughtfulness because you know how small our house is.”. A nice non-answer, if I do say so myself.

    I should mention that two nights in a moderately priced hotel room is not going to break the bank for any of us.

    Am I being horrible to try to start a new “hotel stay” tradition? Should I just suck it up and consider it all quality time with the family (I should say that since it’s my husband’s side of the family I’m talking about, I want to tread lightly)?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Alicia

      How about “You know you are welcome at our place anytime but I truly understand that a hotel can be much more comfortable then the sleeping bag on the floor. So if you want to stay say the word and if you want help finding a great hotel in the area just let us know.” Maybe people have been wanting not to stay the night for years and only when you guys started it felt like they could get a decent night sleep.

    • Elizabeth

      WJ – I hear you – When I was in my mid-twenties, I decided that I would no longer spend the night on friends’ floors. I was out of that ‘college’ mentality, and I had a job so I no longer needed to spend any more uncomfortable nights to save a buck!

      That being said, it sounds like there may have been some nice things that went along with everyone bunking in the same place – adults drinking wine around the kitchen table late into the night, the young cousins being able to have sleep-overs with out another, or a joyous raucous breakfast in the morning. The one thing that sleeping in a hotel does is that it makes it harder to have all of those other nice interactions just before and after sleeping. That could be the loss that your family finds less than ideal.

      One suggestion could be for all the kids (not babies/toddlers) to sleep over at the house (their young backs can take it!) and for the adults to retire to a nearby motel. That way the adults will be back in the morning to check in on their kids and not miss out on so much of the stuff I mentioned before.

      There could be other versions of this as well. If someone got a camper, it would also be nice to have the family sleeping just steps out of the door in a comfortable bed rather than on the floor. Inexpensive campers can be found used, and it could be something that the family as a whole invests in as a way to ‘extend’ the capacities of the house in a temporary way.

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