In this blog challenge I learned about different types of volunteering: Necessary, Informal, Formal and Self-activated.
Parents often engage in activities to raise funds for school equipment. My parents started a local Little Athletics club so my sister and other kids could compete in Saturday morning competitions. They also held roles in numerous professional organisations and the Body Corporate where they lived.
Informal & Self-activated
Though leaving my marriage was necessary, my sense of self was shattered. I had failed. Knowing nothing about domestic violence added to my shame but learning about it gave me perspective.
When an organisation I belonged to wanted to celebrate its 21st anniversary, I jumped at the chance to offer a ceremony (rather than just a party) to honour the founding members, the journey and the expansion. People appreciated the depth this brought. I was grateful for the meaning and purpose it gave me. It also gave a boost to my confidence.
Later that same year I applied to be a mentor to carers who look after a loved one with serious or terminal illness. My lived experience of (more than my fair share of) deaths, and companioning a friend from diagnosis to death, was valued. As was having been a volunteer at a Reiki Healing Centre where many of the clients were unwell and/or dying. I’d been trained in how to be with death and dying.
So much can be gained.
During the training for the role of mentor, I learned that some carers die before their loved one because they are stretched beyond capacity. My mother developed “carer stress” as my father’s advancing dementia took him further and further away. Care for the carer is so important.
I enjoyed connecting with my fellow mentors at fortnightly meetings. We shared the challenges we were experiencing with mentees and celebrated the progress they and we were making. We were united in a common cause of compassionate companioning. It was very satisfying to be contributing and making a difference.
Eventually my volunteer role became paid work and I remember how empowering it was to have the role of manager. I truly felt like a new woman.
What about over-giving?
After the end of an eight-year relationship (in my 30s) I got a real buzz from volunteering with like-minded people. It was fun and so rewarding, but I gave too much and ended up in debt. It’s important to be mindful of getting carried away by passion. Balance and good self-care matter too.
Where would we be without volunteers?
Volunteers make up to 50% of the workforce. A large number of roles aren’t sufficiently recognised for them to be paid roles.
Aha! Reflecting on my numerous volunteer experiences and writing this piece, I see that at times, I have turned to being of service after a crisis. What’s more, this Blogging GEMS program is another instance of that.
Alternate link for information about Reiki Healing:
Blogging GEMS program
This Blog is a part of the Blogging GEMS program, which supports domestic violence survivors to practise the self-care strategies of Gratitude, Exercise, Mindfulness, Support, and Service (GEMS). As they practise the strategies, they blog about it.you can read their survivor GEMS Blogs:
Mindfulness Meditation Blogs:
Running away from being still