There are so many benefits to doing voluntary work, both personally, ethically and professionally.
My own experience of volunteering began modestly, helping out with fund-raising events at my children’s primary school. The pleasure of organising school discos and preparing the pupils for their Christmas production was priceless and I’m sure my three felt happy I was there experiencing the excitement with them.
It wasn’t until after my father died that I really embraced the whole aspect of becoming a volunteer. With a little more free time available I was unsure what steps to take to fill my days. Dad was no longer around to visit and keep company so I filled that huge void by becoming an assistant at the newly opened charity shop that raised much needed funds for the local hospice that, co-incidentally, cared for him in his final days.
It was a dark, uninviting place that begged for a fresh coat of paint to cover the sickly green wood chip paper that covered the walls. It was almost unbearably cold in there during the winter and smelt of damp, it’s mustiness evident the minute you came through the door. However, the other volunteers were lovely to work with and I decided to do my best to make the shop look more cheerful and less shabby. No easy feat!
The best way to do this was by colour co-ordinating the clothes and adding corresponding displays on shelves above each section. The window was a challenge, given the sparse nature of it’s appeal and I would angst about customers regularly removing strategically placed items, oblivious to their destruction of my carefully considered aesthetic attempt……yes, I know that’s completely irrational on my part – us arty types are so temperamental.
Joking aside what I’m saying is, my volunteering experience enabled me to indulge my passion for merchandising and all things artistic. I had dabbled over the years in window dressing and retail display but never got the qualifications to prove this. Here I was able to use my skills without question and I must say, with positive results. Customers often commented how they enjoyed coming in to see the displays which gave me great satisfaction in two ways – my (fragile) ego was rubbed and there was more chance they would buy something, raising extra cash for St. Joseph’s hospice. Win win really!
We have since moved location to a shiny, brand new shop. The fittings and fixtures lend themselves to an exclusive boutique and it’s been an absolute joy to dress the place and witness it’s opening. I hope it’s success continues and brings in even more revenue for such a wonderful cause.
Volunteering comes in all forms – from building schools in third world countries to the more modest but no less important helping out at a local primary school or hospital. The benefits are two-fold. You will undoubtedly find it an enriching experience and the service you offer will benefit whatever charity or organisation you have decided to offer your services to.
Some people love volunteering so much they replace their salaried positions for the opportunity to help out. If you are in a position where being paid for your employment isn’t necessary (not possible with the majority of voluntary workers obviously), I would say go for it. The satisfaction and contentment will be more than adequate payment for what you do.
Some actually leave their paid positions (after carefully financial planning beforehand I presume) to undertake a volunteering opportunity. To be inspired to help others and generally endeavour to make the world a better place is an honourable task. One such individual is a perfect example – visit http://www.friendindeed.org.uk.
You don’t have to leave your job to volunteer – even one evening a week, a couple of hours at the weekend, it all helps. It will help you personally in obtaining a unique satisfaction and contentment. It will help whoever or whatever it is you decide to volunteer with. There are no losers, only winners in the ‘helping others’ game.
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”
H.Jackson Brown Jr.