Volunteering is crucial in the community. From parents who help at school fetes, working bees and on canteen duty, blood donors, sports coaches, Girl Guide and Scout leaders, to families who provide respite to parents of children with disabilities, English tutors for migrants, meals on wheels deliverers and charity fund raisers. Volunteering helps people in needs. It enables information and skills to be shared and developed. It helps the community and it helps people grow.
I am a volunteer. I currently volunteer at Grit Media, creating the disability focused TV show No Limits. I used to volunteer as a mentor at the Royal Children's Hospital's Chronic Illness Peer Support (ChIPS) program. I love it! These volunteer positions have taught me skills in leadership, listening and disability awareness, and I have met many people from diverse backgrounds. I have made some close friends too. And the skills learnt volunteering are transferrable to the workplace.
When I put the question "Do you volunteer?" out on Facebook my friends came back with some fantastic stories, and it inspired me.
Cheryl in New York told me, "my focus in life is the care and education of children. Although most of my peers are retired by now (we're in our early 60s) I'm busier than ever, volunteering at Head Start, a government-sponsored preschool in the U.S. I do everything from taking pictures, buying and cataloging books, suppliing dolls, crayons, toys, games, to working one-on-one with needy children. I'm there 4 days out of 5, and on the fifth day I miss it! When I'm there at school I don't think about myself; it's always about the children. When I get home, the stresses can manifest themselves (binge eating, mostly). But I'll be there as long as I have breath in my body."
Jess volunteers in the health sector, while studying for a nursing degree, as well as battling a severe chronic illness. She says: "volunteering does give you a sense of purpose. Due to being chronically Ill, I cannot work, but being able to volunteer when I am up to it makes me feel that I am still productive to society.
I run a social group for Chronically Ill teenage girls in Ballarat, once a month - it is called Slow Cure? No Problem! I am now also president of the Friends of St John Ambulance Ballarat. We raise money, and provide support to St John ambulance. I can't imagine not volunteering."
And Lindy told me:
"Our family volunteers for an Australian foundation called Mercy International' - they have 3 orphanages across Thailand. In a weeks time my husband and I are heading to Thailand to work in the orphanages - this will be my 3rd trip and my husbands first. My husband will finally get to meet our sponsor son of 5 yrs. our daughter (who is 19 and has raised the money herself to make the orphanage mission trip 3times) and I recently held a fundraiser for Mercy to help with the building of a new orphanage for HIV+ children.
We are the lucky ones to have these children in our lives. These children are the 'lucky ones' as they have found their way to Mercy and not ended up in one of the horrid state orphanages. Our sponsor son Toto is HIV+ and our government will not let him in our lucky country - but if it was possible we would have adopted him years ago in a heart beat! I had spinal surgery and eye surgery recently - so unfortunately this trip I will not be helping as physically as I have in the past - painting, cleaning, gardening, digging trenches, etc but there will plenty I can still do. And the kids don't care what we look like, who we are, what we do they just love that we go to spend time with them and help out where ever we can. And when these kids smile any aches and pains we have seem to just melt away. I just can't wait to give Toto the biggest hug ever! Check out 'Mercy International' on Facebook =)
In our local community my husband is president of the best soccer club."
I was so proud to read their stories. Over on my blog's Facebook page, friends told me they take professional photos for individuals and organisations at no cost, volunteer at St Vincent De Paul's and St Kilda Mums.
In the spirit of volunteering, ten years ago the guys at SEEK volunteered to build a site to find individuals for Australia’s thousands of not-for-profit organisations.
SEEKVolunteer is a site that represents every Australian charity, organisation and community project that requires volunteers to ensure their success. It is a site that places passionate individuals with not-for-profit projects that really needs them.
Since being launched SEEKVolunteer has been responsible for placing thousands of individuals in not-for-profit projects and organisations. Passionate individuals have been connected to the charities that need them, from Red Cross and Oxfam to local people and businesses trying to help their own communities.
The need for volunteers never stops growing. In fact, thousands of Australian not-for- profit organisations need to fill volunteer positions this year. Unfortunately, this ever- growing need is not widely known. We want to get the message out there about the power of volunteering. And demonstrate that anything’s possible when enough people come together with a common goal.
Do you volunteer? What do you do?