Pt. IV: A Creativity Center Should Be Creative


This is so important. There are so many organizations out there that need volunteers, but they make volunteering unpleasant. Maybe they’re overly bureaucratic. Maybe they’re gruff and impatient. Maybe the work is simply too tough to retain most people. Or maybe — and this is by far the most common sin committed against volunteers — the organization makes the work dull and boring, reductive and repetitive.

Think about it: you are running a center trying to inspire young people to be creative. That should make your work atmosphere fun and loose and… creative.

The worst thing — and the strangest thing — you could do is to make the experience of volunteering at a creative writing center sterile, un-fun and constrained.

So allow your volunteers to be creative. Let them teach weird workshops. Let them help decorate the space. Let them put on social events.

The thing you will learn early on is that it’s not just your students who need a creative outlet. Very often it’s your volunteers, too. Maybe their day jobs don’t allow them to write creatively, and they would love to help create books, brochures, posters, and products for you. Maybe you have a closet playwright who wants to teach high schoolers how to write for the stage. Maybe you have an aspiring poet working in insurance; she would love to flex her poet-muscles with middle-schoolers.

Whatever you do, allow and nourish and amplify the creativity in your volunteers, too. That’s a big reason they’ve come to you.