Happy National Volunteer week! ‘Live, laugh, share – volunteer’ is the theme this year, which helps capture the heart-felt appreciation we feel when people come together to build stronger, more vibrant communities through volunteer service.
I love this wee blurb from the SEEK website: According to research, volunteering can quite literally make you live longer, help you create social bonds, boost your empathy/ life satisfaction, combat depression and increase your confidence, to name just a few.
This is reinforced by a great quote my friend wrote on FB yesterday: “Volunteering is making me feel more alive and more authentic than ever”.
Yes, I will keep harping on about it. Volunteering is meaningful on so many levels.
Let me share with you some of my formal volunteering experiences from years gone by. I have also engaged in many informal experiences, but due to space and time (and not wanting to bore you) I have not included them.
TREE PLANTER / CONSERVATION HELPER
In my late teens and early twenties, I attended regular events in the Waitakere ranges where I helped with tree planting, weeding tasks, potting plants, and general garden maintenance. Through my old workplace I also got to plant trees over on Motuihe Island.
WHAT I LOVED: Oodles and oodles of fresh air. Ability to use my hands – a great way to destress. Yes, the work was tiring at times but it was awesome to see the tangible results of our work. A clean green NZ is utterly inspiring.
When I was considering a career change, I volunteered as a counsellor at Lifeline to see whether it was a path I was passionate about. It turned out it was! It helped shape my pathway to come as a career practitioner.
WHAT I LOVED: The training was amazing. Reflective, challenging and very supportive. It was also a privilege to support people going through tough times. I also made a life-long best friend too! (she was a fellow volunteer).
I was an active committee member for the Auckland branch and National Executive for the Career Development Association of NZ. I was involved in developing the social media channels for CDANZ and also shared ideas for events and PD.
WHAT I LOVED: Being able to work with a talented and well-informed group of people! I was able to contribute to high level planning and decision-making and was valued for my expertise.
For a short while I volunteered as an attendant at Pah Homestead (Wallace Arts Trust). I helped visitors with queries and also did regular checks of the art works.
WHAT I LOVED: Learning about art. It was a total feast for the senses and it really made me appreciate the craftmanship involved.
I formally mentored a fantastic student going through the First Foundation programme. This involved regular catch-ups with the student to discuss career plans, goals and interests.
WHAT I LOVED: Watching an individual grow. It was an honour to share meaningful conversations with the student, helping him to reflect on the things that were important to him. I learnt lots about communication and empathy through the process too!
THE UPBEAT COLLECTIVE
Over the duration of a year, I ran a wellbeing project called “The Upbeat Collective”, hosting and running different activations and events including; handing out food at an ANZAC Day parade, organising a community guest speaker event, fundraising for the Cancer Society… etc.
WHAT I LOVED: Developing cool ideas to engage people into giving back to others. I met some incredible people through the journey who continue to inspire me today.