New Zealand: A Country of Volunteers
You may know that this week is National Volunteer Week 2019. From 16 to 22 June, we celebrate the collective contribution of the 1.2 million volunteers who enrich Aotearoa New Zealand. This year’s theme is “Whiria te tangata – weaving the people together”. At last count, New Zealanders contributed 157 million hours of their time to organisations, placing us in the top five countries internationally. Volunteers are essential to the well-being of New Zealand, with 90% of non-profit organisations totally reliant on volunteers. If you haven’t before now, it’s a great time to consider volunteering.
Last year, I put my hand up for Sculpture onShore which raised money for Women’s Refuge, and also two events for Breast Cancer Foundation. One of these roles was to act as a cheerleader for the Breast Cancer Pink Star Walk. I watched groups of families walk together, brightening their spirits as they trudged through the puddles. The feeling I had when I saw the smiles on their faces as they came around the corner, far outweighs the 3 hours spent in the pouring rain! At Sculpture onShore, my role was Ambassador and ticket sales, welcoming people into the event and ensuring the sculptures were protected. I learnt how to use the back end of an online ticketing system, a handy skill to have for further roles. During these events, I was lucky enough to meet other volunteers, who came from all walks of life. I heard some heart-warming stories, learnt how to use new technologies, and saw all the sculptures for free!
Roles and benefits
If you are thinking about volunteering, there are a surprising variety of roles available in areas as diverse as music, sports, law, administration, education, retail and horticulture. You’re bound to find something that’s both interesting, and relevant to your chosen career or interests. Aside from the most obvious benefit of helping others and contributing to a good cause, volunteering can help you to:
- Learn or develop skills, knowledge and experience
- Build your confidence
- Discover new passions
- Meet new people and expand your network
- Have fun!
When you are just entering the workforce (or re-entering after a long break) it can be tough to find people to nominate as professional references. However in most volunteer roles, you will work with someone in a supervisory or leadership role, such as a Team Leader. This person will be able to attest to your reliability, and whether you are punctual and well presented, and can also comment on your teamwork, interpersonal skills and communication, and therefore is a great alternative to a workplace referee.
How to volunteer
There are volunteering opportunities all year round, in every part of the country, during the week, evenings and weekends. If you are considering volunteering, it’s easy to find something that is right for you. Try approaching a local charity or non-profit that interests you. Speak with friends, family or work colleagues who you know volunteer, or take a look at the websites below:
https://volunteeringauckland.org.nz/ – greater Auckland.
I volunteer because it makes me feel part of something bigger than myself. I enjoy meeting new people, and being able to have an impact on the community. There are so many volunteering options it’s always a good time to get involved, so why not make it today?