Volunteering is something I used to be very involved in during my school days. When I left school, my life started to take a different direction and all sorts of excuses started to get in the way.
I'm too shy, I don't have any of the right skills, I don't have time, it won't make a difference anyway, I'm too tired, it's too intimidating...
It nagged away at my insides all that time, because deep down I knew wasn't doing what I was meant to be doing. Finally, I woke up one day with the realisation that I needed to put my values into practice again. That to me, there's nothing more important than using the privileges I've been lucky enough to have to do some good. There's enough crap in the world and I don't want to add to it - I want to make it less crap!
How I started over
It was at about 1am one sleepless night when I signed up to where I currently volunteer - Starjam. There are many different ways to go about getting a volunteering position but basically, this is how I did it:
- Browsed Volunteering Auckland for positions to see what I might be interested in
- Did an initial application through Volunteering Auckland
- Had a chat/informal interview with the organisation
- Filled out a few forms and went through a police check
- Took the leap of faith and started!
Now, every week, I help take a dance class for children with disabilities. Can I dance? Not well. Have I had a lot of experience with kids? Not heaps. Was I nervous? You bet. But I turned up the first night and yes, I was a little overwhelmed at first. But it very quickly became second nature.
I really want to communicate that if I can do this, you can too. I am still the same relatively shy gal I was when I started, but I just have less of an issue with that fact. I do it anyway. You just need to take that leap of faith and start too.
Busting those excuses
There are so many different fields you can volunteer in: kids, animals, elderly, environment, social justice - something that suits your interests!
Still on the fence, thinking about all the reasons why not? Well...
Do you have two functioning hands? You can stuff envelopes for a charity, learn some basic construction skills, or make crafts for an organisation to sell.
Do you have a car and a full, clean license? You can pick up and drop off supplies or take an elderly person to their weekly meet-up.
Do you have great communication skills? You could run an organisation's social media page or write their newsletter.
Are you an awesome salesperson or fundraiser? You can plan events or help get funding for a group.
Do you have admin skills? You can help a group out with their administration and accounts needs.
Are you great at talking to people? You could become a mentor for a struggling child or for an elderly person.
Don't have the time or means to help out in person? There are many roles you can perform remotely from the comfort of your own home - all you'll need is a computer and internet.
And that's just scratching the surface.
Just do it
There's no legacy more meaningful than leaving the world a little better off. There are many ways a person can go about doing this, but volunteering is one place to start. So if you feel even a little tug in your heart strings - just dooo it! What are you waiting for?
And while I don't believe we should focus too much on the benefits to the volunteer (because we should just want to do it regardless!) there's no doubt that the experience will ground you and grow you. I'd be surprised if you didn't come out of it a more fulfilled person. I know I already am, and I'm just getting started.
So go on, let all that good in your heart shine like crazy. Living for something more than yourself is a beautiful darn thing. Besides, I really feel that if we're been given resources and opportunities in life that other people haven't, it's our duty to try and help level out the playing field.
Remember: Feel the fear. Be your best. Give back.
PS: I'm looking to squeeze in another volunteer position into my week! Any suggestions? I'd also love to hear about what you're out there doing too - let's inspire each other to change this crazy world! x