It's volunteer week; what better incentive could there be to share about my volunteering and why I volunteer. This is my story. I hope it's interesting and perhaps it will inspire just one person to volunteer.
Why did it start?
I have been moved by the needs of others since I was a child. I couldn't believe the horror of Chenobyl. I cried at the Ethiopian drought. I wanted to help but couldn't figure out how. I wrote poems as an outlet for the pain I felt for these people in need.
What did I do?
I realised I could do sponsored events for charities when I was pre-teens. I did sponsored stay awakes, walks, cycles and the infamous famines - 24, 48 and one year 72 hours on water alone. I raised a lot of money. The focus of my efforts was Africa. Not a surprise for a child who watched the Ethiopian drought ravage a country. I raised money for The Red Cross, World Vision, Comic Relief and many other charities I can't remember. I loved being able to do things for other people; nameless, faceless people who I wouldn't ever need to receive thanks from. It was fulfilling.
Things stopped on the doing front during the university days. Then as a graduate I set up charity giving straight from my salary. I sponsored a child through world vision and gave monthly to oxfam, alzheimers and RSPB.
How did the volunteering start?
It was when I suffered my miscarriages and had Rachel that I realised I could give more than money. I wanted to give back to the Miscarriage Association and knew that I could share my experience through volunteering to help others. I volunteered, was accepted, trained and have been taking calls from people ever since for the MA.
From small acorns do might oaks grow; and that first realisation was the start. Over the last five years I have had a complete change of life. I have heard a call to ministry, giving my time and energy to others. A large part of this is directly for the church. But at least 15 hours a week is in the community giving my time as a volunteer and/or trustee to six more charitable organisations:
Home start - giving three hours a week to a young family who benefits from having time with a someone who understands and cares. An amazing charity and a pleasure of a volunteering experience.
Kilnsea preschool - Since Rachel went to preschool at two I have been on the charity committee. I started as parent rota rep, moved to be charity secretary and am now in my second year as Chair of the charity. Rachel has long since left, but I enjoy the work for this fantastic charity and am passionate about the service we provide to preschoolers and their parents in the community.
LinkLine - I have been a caller for this local charity which calls vulnerable adults in the community. It provides a link for those who otherwise might not see or hear from anyone in a week.
REinspired - I've been volunteering once a week for REinspired for two years. The charity provides RE lessons for all primary school children in the local area. The sessions are interactive and fun, introducing the Christian faith to the kids. Every week is different and every week I learn something.
Helen & Douglas House - this Children's hospice trust is a passion of mine. The work I do for them is so little compared to most, but I know that every little bit if fundraising and awareness raising helps.
Thursday club - this is a true joy and the newest volunteering opportunity I've taken on. Every Thursday in school times two of us go into a local school and give quality time to very small groups of kids in KS2. It's fun, silly, laughter filled and a joy to behold every week.
So what's next?
I know better than to plan too much. I look at each opportunity individually and give time if I can.
However I do know that I'll be licensed as a lay minister in November and my ministerial agreement will include all my charity work. I am blessed to be called to this role and look forward to being licensed.
In a desperate need to make a little money I have started doing party plan for Jamie at Home. It's great fun, I love it. You won't be surprised to hear that I do it differently though. I mostly run charity fundraiser parties, raising 20% of sales for the host's chosen charity. This has raised £1000 in the last 3 months; a perfect mix of earning and giving.
I have given one years notice to Kilnsea preschool and will resign as Chair next May. This resignation will free up time for me to dedicate to the new Berkshire Babyloss Support Group which I am starting. We will launch at the Babyloss Remembrance Service I organise in October and then meet one evening a month available for all those who have lost a baby in pregnancy or shortly after birth.
If I can raise the money I'll also be going on a mission trip to Zambia with a group from church, visiting the Jubilee Centre organisation. An opportunity to return to my beloved Africa and see how the charity works.
Why do I volunteer?
- I enjoy it, it's fun, loads of fun.
- It's important to me to give something back to the community.
- giving of my time is worth more than anything money can buy.
- It's my calling, my role in life.
- I have the time, it's just obvious to me that I put it to good use.
- it's the most rewarding job, other than motherhood, that I've ever done.
If you have even one hour to spare a week please think about volunteering. It'll be one of the best things you've ever done.