What I Learned From My Personal Volunteer Experience
We recently spoke with my colleagues at 1Hour about our previous volunteering experiences. It wasn’t a surprise to hear that so many of us have participated in a good cause in one way or another. There are volunteering opportunities at all ages and requiring different skills. I find personal volunteer experience to be highly motivating and encouraging. Listening to Holly’s and Anastasiia’s volunteering experience, I remembered how I first started volunteering what seems to have been ages ago. Keep reading to hear our stories of personal volunteer experiences across the United Kingdom, Poland, and Ukraine.
Rewarding your wellbeing by helping others
“Volunteering, especially after leaving school and starting University, appealed to me as a fun activity to make a difference. It comes in all shapes and sizes which makes it extraordinary and unique. Volunteering at music festivals was something I always wanted to try — you can help raise money for many charities while also enjoying the festival atmosphere. The same goes for volunteering at a big event like the London Marathon. It’s a community of generous people with a massive challenge ahead. That’s what I like about volunteering when you see groups of individuals with the same big acts of kindness as you come together.
I first started volunteering at a museum as part of my University course. It was a sociable and educational role, ensuring everyone enjoys their museum visit and can approach any of the team members with their questions. Many visitors used to tell me their stories about what made this experience special for them, which was always nice to hear. There were a few evening events that I also helped with, giving me another perspective of what guests can enjoy about the museum.
My time with 1HOUR has been inspiring. I joined the charity as I wanted to use my time proactively to help make a difference during the COVID-19 lockdown. It is very uplifting to work with many positive individuals who share the same purpose as you. The nature of COVID-19 does make you realise that we could all be doing more. On the social side being around people with the positive mindset you aspire for, is truly rewarding for my wellbeing too.
My advise to those considering volunteering
If you are a student reading this, indecisive about becoming a volunteer — do it! You won’t regret your time volunteering and it can take you a long way from both a personal and professional level. You learn a lot while volunteering, and the commitment you make without getting paid doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Holly M., UK
Volunteering at an orphanage: a lesson of compassion
“My first volunteering experience was about compassion and lack of judgment towards the people in need.
It happened several years ago. I was a bachelor, and along with the team of students, we organized regular trips to the orphanage. There, we played with children, collected the clothes, shoes, and food. We even made concerts and days of culture.
The first day I stepped onto this place, the kids were extremely happy. We were dancing and singing, and I felt tremendous joy and deep pain at the same time. I wish I could have really helped at least one of them! All the kids seemed so perfectly innocent, unfairly broken, and desperately left by their beloved ones. Several children of them had parents who, due to some reasons, could not share their lives with kids. Others, though being so young, had already experienced what it was like to see their parents dead and have no relatives able to care about them.
We were diving into this activity, but suddenly something strange happened. Once, we had a call from one of the girls. She claimed to have been hit by elder children. It can’t have been true, we thought. But, actually, it was a terrible reality.
When you see such a situation, the first idea is to make your step back. Unfortunately, some of us (me included) have an idea that feeling compassion means idealization. We think we have to help perfect people who have not been accepted by society. So, the first lesson I took from my volunteering experience was to refuse the idea of helping because of pride. I understood that bringing up children is not equal to playing with them. They go through all the stages of personal growth, with their achievements and failures. If you want to accompany them on the way, you have to be attentive and acceptable. If you see that the person you help does something wrong, it is the sign he must be loved even more. There is nothing good in refusal to help because of judgments. Being compassionate means spreading not reciprocated love.
Now I am totally assured that we must help everyone who asks about that leaving all the judgments behind. Compassion can’t be selective. Volunteering is about loving this world regardless of its imperfection.”
Anastasiia S., Ukraine
Learning to manage a budget
“I must have been in 6th or 7th grade, when during a general assembly meeting an announcement was made. Our school management was approached by a local dog shelter looking for donations needed to support homeless dogs in the area. My school was known for participating in different activities involving charity, collecting funds, different donations, and organizing garage sales. So when the dog shelter owners contacted the school, it was no surprise that my school was ready to help out.
We were asked who would like to commit to helping this dog shelter regularly. It would involve dedicating time after school to visit the dogs. It also meant managing the collected funds buying food and anything else that was needed. I instantly liked the idea since I love animals. It was also convenient to have a pet shop near my home. I had a cat at the time and had made acquaintances with the owner of the shop where my mom and I would regularly buy cat food.
Collecting money for the dog shelter was easier than I thought. Many of the kids and teachers would chip in every week and our group of volunteers managed to supply a decent amount of dog food. We took it to the shelter on the weekends. The dog shelter organized a van to pick us and take us there. I remember feeling very proud every time I went shopping at our pet shop with the amount of money handed over to me.
What this experience taught me
This experience taught me several things. Namely, to work in a team, to calculate and spread funds to last longer and cover what was essential. And to give others’ the feeling of comfort. In this case, showing those dogs that there are people that care. Heading over to that dog shelter made it crystal clear that our time spent there meant a lot. It meant a lot for both the people working there and the dogs. I didn’t mind going there in my free time. I felt that my ‘sacrifice’ was appreciated and I’d always leave with a feeling of content and satisfaction. And I was looking forward to coming back again. I also learned not to take money for granted, that while my parents would buy me things, it all had a price. At the pet shop, I started to look at and compare prices, and buy what was needed based on careful calculations.
Volunteering at the dog shelter was a great initiative and opportunity for young kids to come across. It’s one of the many ways you can help volunteer, regardless of how old you are.”
Rayna M., Germany
If you have kids at home, or spare time on your hands, why not check out if there are volunteering experiences in your area? Christmas is around the corner and one of the most inspiring times to help out others and to do something good. Regardless where you are, you’ll find numerous opportunities to give someone a reason to smile.