Why You Should Say “Yes” to Being on your HSA Board.

I  wrote a piece 2 years ago about why I said “yes” when I was asked to be on the HSA board for our elementary school. Knowing that those calls are going out around now to line up next years victims, I mean, candidates, I thought I’d revisit the topic and explain why I said “yes.”

When I got the phone call, I definitely felt a little dread in my stomach. I knew why they were calling. They’re going to ask me to be the HSA (Home & School president–what we called “the PTA” growing up.)  It’s one of those things that a part of you wants to do…another part fears it will be way more work than anybody is admitting to you. In fact, the call began something like this “Heather, before you say no, just hear me out. OK? Don’t hang up.” When you’re about to be asked something that usually gets a “no” response–something that nobody else wants to do–it doesn’t immediately put you in a mindframe to say “yes.”

In the end, I said “yes” and I knew that I’d regret it if I had said “no.”  This is why. First of all, why not me?  I wouldn’t say that volunteering is “my thing” but I love our school and am so appreciative of all the parents that have made it the unique place that it is. I kind of felt like I owed it to them; like it was my turn to give back. And two years later, I’m still glad I did. And now, I’m a nobody and have no idea what’s going on. I am out of the “inner circle!” Here are 10 reasons to just say “YES!” if they pop the question.

10 Reasons to Say “Yes” to Being on an HSA Board:

1. I loved being a fly on the wall at school events that I might not normally have been a part of. I felt like I was part of the school inner workings.

2. Speaking of flies, the year FLIES by. It goes faster than you think it will.

3. I had the opportunity to really get to know the teachers and staff and now have a whole new appreciation for them. They go above and beyond in ways that most parents never hear about.

4. If you sometimes you feel like you see the same faces volunteering at school, you’ll be amazed by the parents who quietly volunteer in ways that no one knows about.

5. I loved my meeting with our principal. I was able to understand her visions for the school and understand some of the politics that exist that I may have questioned before.

6. I loved brainstorming ways to spend money from our fundraising efforts to make our children’s days enriched, fun and more fulfilling.

7. I know the kids at our school better. Even if I don’t know children’s names, I’ve come to recognize their faces and they recognize mine! It’s nice.

8. I loved the monthly meetings with other presidents and the Board of Ed. It was fascinating hearing the inner dynamics of the school board and other schools. It was inspiring to hear how other schools fundraise and where they spend their dollars. It also made me feel confident that we chose the right town.

9. I made new friends. When you take a position like this, suddenly, people know you—and you have a chance to know them.

10. And of course, in my case, the president’s parking spot rocks! If your HSA doesn’t have a spark spot, ask for one! God, do I miss it at 3pm pickup.

It’s 2 years later and I’m still glad I did it. And sometimes, I miss it.
I feel like I have NO IDEA what is going on! I am out of the loop!

What are the negatives?
For me, it was the nitty-gritty. I’m better at thinking about the larger vision than dealing with the small details. I’m not always great at immediately responding to emails and making calls and my inbox was definitely fuller.

Other than that, there really weren’t any negatives. I’ve loved meeting with my board once a month over coffee to talk about the school. Our conversations always stray to our struggles to balance our lives as women and mothers and we shared so many laughs.  Each person is comes to the table with different strengths that keep us all balanced. I always knew they had my back.

A few people commented to me that its a thankless job. I totally disagree. And not just because it’s rewarding to see your efforts turn into actions. The parents and the kids are always so incredibly appreciative. I’ve gotten emails thanking me for events that our board hosted and some for events that they just assumed we did! The thank yous were heartfelt from kids, staff and parents.

Tips for Survival:
Delegate, delegate, delegate! Don’t try to do it all yourself. Ask for help.
Carve out time in your schedule once a week that is designated to your HSA duties (responding to emails, preparing for upcoming meetings)
Before saying “yes,” make sure you have your spouse’s blessing. They might need to chip in more than usual.
Remember that its a volunteer position. You and your family should always come first.

The year has gone by quickly. My advice to you is that if you’re in a situation where you know any minute now the phone call is going to come and you’re going to be asked, say yes! You wont regret it.

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Author: Heather Zachariah

Former Art Director for Home Magazine, Heather Leahy Zachariah, left her career in publishing after baby number number one. She now works from home as a freelance graphic designer and a chauffeur to her 3 busy kids. "Working on TipsFromTown has been a wonderful outlet for me. It renewed my love of publishing where I can design colorful, enticing pages online and allows me to share the things I love about being a mom." Heather grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a place that still is near and dear to her. " After living in Brooklyn for 18 years and studying Graphic Design at Pratt Institute, she now lives in the Jersey burbs. "I love living so close to NYC, but in my heart, I'm an Ohio girl."


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