Feeling Used and Abused

Hi! I am new to this forum and I have a question. My three children attend a Catholic school. My husband was laid off in December of last year and the church and school have helped us out with tuition and we are extremely grateful. However, the attitude now seems to be that we should do whatever they ask because they have helped us. We are required 80 hours of volunteer, my husband went in several days throughout the summer to help with replacing sidewalks, painting, and cleaning. He also is an assistant coach for my daughter’s volleyball team which means practices and travel. I work bingo which is an automatic 40 hours even though we actually work more than that. My problem is that the principal wanted my husband to be available at no notice to help with other projects at the school. When my husband declined, he was told he needed to because we were receiving extra help. The Diocesan Policy is that no family can be denied a Catholic education due to financial difficulties. I understand the priviledge of having my children there, but do we suck it up and comply…it seems as though we are being blackmailed.

That seems a bit unfair…especially since the church and school should be encouraging and helping your husband get a new job so he won’t have to be dependent on them anymore. Is this pressure coming from the principal only or from the church as well. If it’s only coming from the school have you thought about talking to the priest in your parrish?

I feel the same as Alix, if the pressure is coming from the principle then I would certain;y take it up with the parish priest and the parish council.

God Bless

The principal truly does a wonderful job at the school. The priest is in agreement with the principal. I don’t mind going above and beyond, and I’m sure my husband doesn’t either, however, I don’t think it means anything if it doesn’t come from me or is only done because now there are conditions on the additional financial aid. There have been volunteer issues in the school before and my husband and I generally do more than the required 80. Last year we had almost 100 hrs. It honestly feels as though we are being taken advantage of.

Are other parrents required to put in x number of hours of volunteer work? If so, I wouldn’t count those hours . Have you compared the number of hours of volunteer work times a reasonable pay to the amount of tuition assistance? If the amount of extra volunteer work is exceeding the bennefit in terms of how much assistance you are getting then I’d say you have a point.

Since I am not involved with the situation, it is easier for me to give the bennefit of doubt. I have also been in a number of volunteer organizations and a common problem is that they seem to have certain people on speed dial while others who are willing to help are never contacted. This happended to me with the Red Cross where I kept calling and volunteering but never heard back untill something happened and they had something they could use my help with, then they went to the other extreme. Is it possible that they are calling you more often than other parrents because they know you and feel more comfortable asking you?

How does your husband feel about the extra volunteer work? Are you giving mixed signals? For us: I enjoy the work and the fellowship and am always volunteering for more stuff while my wife is complaining that they are asking to much of me.

However if it is a work or else routine, you may want to talk to the priest.

In all honesty, my husband wanted to send them to public schools. We had a really bad year last year with teachers and other issues. It ended up being a BIG transition year with a lot of families leaving. (We are in a rural area with a small school). I knew the teachers we would have this year and knew my children would only benefit. I used to volunteer for everything and got burned out after about 4 years. (this is our eighth year at the school.) I just wanted others’ views. I wanted to know if I was being unreasonable.

I would go in now at the beginning of the school year and negotiate a written agreement with the principal countersigned by you and the pastor of the number of hours required by each of you, the nature of the assignments that will fulfill the requirements, and a job description (simple but enough to rule out “whatever I ask you to do whenever I ask”.) Make sure it differentiates between the hours all parents are asked to contribute, and those that “count” toward your tuition obligation.

*I really like annie’s suggestion…not right that you’re what…‘on call’ like a doctor for the school? I understand that there became an understood bartering for lack of a better word, since you didn’t have the funds…but, still. It seems excessive, and drawing up an agreement would help the situation. I hope things work out, has your husband found work since last year? Prayers going out to you. *

Excellent suggestion. I can also see both side in the sense that they know you are both at home and available, so they call and expect more. But on your side, you can indeed be burned out by that and really your husband’s energy should be toward getting a new job. Hopefully you can come to an agreement. Tuition assistance shouldn’t mean you become the school’s indentured servants!

I have been unemployed for 1.5 years, my husband has been unable to find a job for many years - we are literally inches from begging in the streets. If we rec’d assistance, we would be thrilled to be on call to do anything they needed, any time they needed it.

I guess it all depends on how desparate you become, pray you do not get this far down.

I agree with everyone else. Getting it in writing would be a great start, but maybe you should lecture the school administration. They’re acting very un-Christlike!

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