Rose Dawn Scott
The first time I saw The Zero, it was Greg Bueno's baby all the way. In 1995, the original site was non-viewable to me on my Mac Plus with its screamin' fast 2400 baud modem; however, Dennis's PC was able to get me in, and get me intrigued.
The first task I took as a volunteer came when The Zero got its own URL—proofreading. At that time, virtually all the material on the site had been scanned from hard copy. Anyone who's used a scanner will understand: scanned text pretty much demands thorough proofing. It turned out to be an ongoing task as well, a testament to the sheer amount of information available: way too much for a once-over-quickly. Also to the quality of the material: high enough to distract from the search for scanner "burps" and get more than one volunteer copy-editor caught up in actually reading the text, rather than proofing it. Back in the days when The Zero had a Message Board, there were regular posts about the impossibility of reading everything on the site, because there was just so much there—logical enough, but untrue. During the late '90s, some volunteers read every word on the site, more than once!
In '99, the Resources section of the site was much smaller than it would later become. When the first new category was added that year—"Animal Abuse," a sub-category of "Related Topics"—I was asked to help find organizations and research for the category. It was strongly emphasized that quality, rather than quantity, was the guiding factor: Andrew Vachss did not want The Zero's Resources section to become merely another website "Links List," but rather, an actual resource for its users, who included students, counselors, law enforcement professionals, and regular folks in need of information or help, from all over the world.
Completing the assigned task got me hooked on Resources. The Zero has never lacked for volunteers, but many of us contacted the site, offered to help, and then waited to be given an assignment. That's the way it works with much volunteerism, but in this case, everyone connected with the site was constantly busy, leaving little time to focus on each volunteer's individual strengths, experience, talents, and interests. Instead of waiting for another assignment, I asked for one specifically: The Zero was a global website, but at that time, every non-U.S. organization of any kind was listed together in one category: INTERNATIONAL. I thought maybe it would be a better idea to list the non-U.S. groups and organizations in their proper categories, splitting each into "U.S. RESOURCES" and "INTERNATIONAL RESOURCES."
And so it began! I did many things during my time as a Zero volunteer, including a little writing, a lot of proofreading, and taking a turn as The Zero's "Volunteer Coordinator." Corresponding with other volunteers, and actually having a chance to find out a bit about their experiences, strengths, and interests, assisted greatly with matching the "right volunteer" to the "right job." A great many of the other volunteers worked together with me to make The Zero's Resources what they are today. It was truly a community effort, and our "community" spanned the globe.
It still is, and it still does. Having played a part in the history of The Zero was one of the most important things I've ever done, and gave me far more than I gave to the Resources. I was, and remain, consistently blown away by the caliber of The Zero's volunteers, both as professionals and as human beings. It was an honor and a privilege—and a hell of a lot of fun!—to hop The Zero's train and ride the rails. Taking part in something that extends beyond oneself and one's immediate environment is a life-changing experience, and I'm thankful to Mr. Vachss for having given me the opportunity, and to the many dedicated and selfless volunteers who gave (and continue to give) hope for the future of the world and its children.
Happy tenth anniversary to The Zero, and kudos to its all-volunteer staff: Kim the Dragon Lady, Mike Lowry, Olaf Havnes, and each of you who has helped the site become a formidable force for positive change over the last decade. "The sorrows are but as shadows: they pass and are done: but there is that which remains." The Zero remains, a light amid the shadows. Long may it burn, as bright and fierce as the hearts of those who love it.
—Rose Dawn Scott
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