So, what to do when I find myself at a loose-end and not knowing which way to go? My
partner has found a job in a new location and I am looking, but this is a small place with its main employer not hiring at this time. In fact this is far, far away from all
that I know or have known. I then have a conversation with someone organising various events and they tell me they’d be glad of a hand, if I was willing to volunteer. Well, I thought... ‘Why Not?’. I mean, it’s a 'Win-Win' situation isn’t
It’s supposed to be
a Win for me as I am not sitting idle and instead I am keeping busy with the added bonus of keeping my eye on possible paid opportunities coming up. Heck, I might even learn
something and at the very least, brush up some existing skills. A Win for the organisation and the community it serves by having that extra helping hand in a time of tight
budgets and fiscal constraint. Well, that was the theory…
The first environment I get placed in didn’t exactly give me a warm welcome. All I can think
is that they were worried about their positions and didn’t really understand the term ‘volunteer’. Apparently this place has never had volunteers on a regular basis, the locals mostly have paid jobs so why should they volunteer and there does not seem to be any retirees here who want to lend a hand.
Of course, in times of crisis, the community pulls together but at that point they have to, simply to survive.
After a shift or two, I am moved into the office of the person who recruited me and I am happily helping them out with a particular event that is of interest to me anyway. However, my first impressions of volunteering here have left a bad taste in my mouth. I still
can’t understand the attitude and even when I thought I was winning with one, another individual was not having a bar of it. It was reported back to me that ‘Why
is he here? We don’t need him!’ There are obviously bigger issues here because
these people didn’t know me. Given that they had people away and were clearly struggling putting it together professionally should suggest they would jump at the chance
of having someone take up the slack.
I have been a volunteer in bigger places
in the past, either during my various studies or just ‘between jobs’ but this place is different. For a short period straight out of school and wondering what
to do next, I was a volunteer with a well-known international organisation. My role there was a relatively simple one, to assist in a shop picking and packing orders. At another time I was working with a team clearing weeds and rubbish from a mangrove area. Most of the team on that project were international students, this was
Come to think of it, I was also a volunteer for a local Neighbourhood Watch
program, I remember the days when I would walk around my local area either delivering newsletters or collecting token subscriptions. These were fairly organised opportunities
and people were generally grateful for any assistance I could offer. Granted, those others were charity, not-for-profit organisations and this is a public sector whose main
focus is the community it serves. In addition this is not the big city but a small town, the sort of place where everyone knows everyone and most are related in some way.
Usually, when volunteering there is a different,
more positive vibe and people there are well aware that you are giving your time and labour for personal reasons and not looking for the immediate payoff. Mostly, I was a
member of a team and enjoyed the friendly, conversational nature of the duties. Of course, if the opportunity arises I will still take a paid role but in the meantime I am
willing to assist in any way I can. It has been a while between volunteering roles for me but surely the basics haven’t changed.
After all the International Year of the Volunteer was back in 2001 and the 10th Anniversary of that was 2011, so not that many years ago.
differences are evident, in that the charity organisations rely on volunteers and have the systems in place to welcome and induct new recruits. With this current place there
was really none of that, the person who recruited me had to make up an application form and time-sheet for me but I do get coffee during my break. Now that I’m in the
office I’m more in the day-to-day eye of the rest of the staff which has its pros and cons. Let’s just see how that goes….