How to find connection through volunteering
Muddy mornings in the fog setting out witches’ hats for junior soccer. Picking up a bag of groceries for your elderly neighbour on your way home from work. Helping a newly arrived family to Australia settle into your community. You may not identify as one, but you may already be a volunteer.
Many of us feel daunted by the prospect of volunteering. We look at those who devote hours to more structured and well-known volunteering organisations such as the CFA or Greenpeace and think ‘although I would love to, I couldn’t possibly devote that much time, life is just far too busy’.
But the great news is, many of us are already volunteers without really considering ourselves as such. Our passions, interests and communities often instinctively lead us to become involved in volunteer activities which are close to our heart and strengthen our immediate communities.
Think about it for a minute… What is important to you? What do you truly care about? What are you good at? What are you already doing in your community that is helping others? By asking yourself these questions, you can help identify what sort of volunteering not only suits your lifestyle, but will also give you the most satisfaction.
Here are some of the benefits of volunteering close to your heart and home
Build stronger, happier local community
Volunteering close to your heart or your home allows you to make a real difference to your own personal community. Fed up with the litter cluttering your local creek? Wrangle some friends, clean it up and celebrate with a picnic afterwards. Always loved to draw but ended up working in a bank? Share your drawing skills by running classes at your local community house. By giving back within your own circle, you are also giving back to those within it, be it your children, your friends or your neighbours.
It doesn’t feel like work
When we are doing what we love, we all feel happier and we want to do it more often. Ask a keen gardener to help build a veggie patch at the local kinder - chances are, they would relish the opportunity to spend more time with their hands in the dirt and will come back regularly to maintain it without being asked! Ask them to do the kinder’s bookkeeping and they might not be so keen! We all have skills and interests to share, it just makes good sense to put them to us.
Connections to like-minded people
Not only will interest-driven volunteering fulfil you personally, but it will also broaden your network by connecting you with like-minded people who share the same passions. We all know those people who say ‘oh we met forty years ago at the local toy library and have been friends ever since’, right? Spending time with those with a common interest and a shared goal is fulfilling and a great way to build new friendships and networks that might even lead to other opportunities.
When you volunteer towards something you care about, you are more likely to stick at it. This sort of volunteering has an amazing way of fitting in around your life, rather than travelling half way across town at times which might not suit. The longer you are able to volunteer, the more impact you can have and the more impact it will have on you. Whether it be coaching an ungainly group of basketballers through to their first premiership or overseeing the increase in numbers of the endangered wedged tail eagle, many find enormous personal fulfilment in being a part of the growth and success of initiatives over a longer period of time.
So, if you have an appetite to volunteer but are nervous about the commitment, think about what you are already doing – you may already be a volunteer. And if that’s the case, use this to help guide you through your search on SEEK Volunteer to find more opportunities close to your heart and home.