Volunteering – to give or to receive? By Kathy Cassells
work for an organization without being paid.
“volunteering is an easy way to get involved in practical conservation”
Looking at the definition of what a volunteer is or volunteering to do something it is quite clear that to volunteer is to give. That may be so but when looking into the nitty gritty and true life experiences of volunteering the definition might present as something else.
I speak from personal experience but I know that I share thoughts and views of many of the Chic Mamas volunteers as well as volunteers from other organisations. I think firstly it is valuable to look at why people offer to volunteer their time or skill to an organisation. In many instances it is because they want to give back to the community or society by volunteering time as opposed to just donating money. Possibly they want a more hands on approach. However in many instances it stretches further than just giving back, it expands to actually receiving something in return in the way of satisfaction, passion, friendship and a sense of belonging.
Many of our volunteers over the years at Chic Mamas have been woman who have previously worked full time and are now no longer working but still want to be involved somewhere, have the engagement of colleagues and customers. Some have never worked and will never need to work but still want to feel like they are achieving something, learning skills within the workplace that they would not have learnt by staying home. Some of our volunteers do have their own businesses and work from home, their involvement at Chic Mamas gets them out of their home offices and gets them interacting with the outside world even if it’s just one morning a week.
There is much to be said and learnt by being part of a collective or team. Shared ideas, shared passions and most definitely shared enthusiasm. During my time at Chic Mamas I have met volunteers from all walks of life, various nationalities, various ages and with varied interests. I have learnt from them, shared my own network with them and gained extensive knowledge or resources from their networks. I have met new people through them, introduced them to new people and all in all created a whole new group of friends that I would have never experienced had I not been part of the team.
Our volunteers over the years have all added something to the business, be it working in the shops, assisting with administration, assisting at events or with our projects, offering darning & needlework skills, assisting with marketing or merely introducing us to someone who we can add to our network of supporters. With every new volunteer that offers up their time comes a whole new circle of opportunity.
So, as much as every hour worked in the shop or at one of our events adds endless value to the Chic Mamas brand and eventually to our beneficiaries, every hour adds just as much value to that individual who has given of her time and skills to be part of the Chic Mamas team. Very often in the volunteering game, the rewards far outweigh the sacrifice or the time spent giving.
Chic Mamas would not be where or what we are without the selfless service from our team of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. Thanks is never enough for the time and love they give to the Chic Mamas cause, they are truly the heartbeat of the organisation.