I attended Catholic schools all my life and “RE” or “Religious Education” featured heavily. As we entered into high school, we were expected to behave like good Catholic citizens and give back to the community.
In Year 10, the “Community Development” program was part of our school curriculum and as a result, we were expected to volunteer a few hours over two weeks giving back to the community. Luckily for us, the school provided an array of programs to choose from and we were able to freely decide which ones we wanted to participate in.
FIRST TIME VOLUNTEER
So for the first week of the program, I chose to volunteer at the local YMCA and help out with children’s activities. So I would coordinate activities such as board games for those children who enjoyed this. I would supervise cooking classes for those children interested in this. Or I would ensure that the “majority vote” rule was followed in the TV room so that the children watched a PG rated movie in peace and harmony. I learnt a lot of patience volunteering at the YMCA I assure you.
The second week of “Community Development” I volunteered my hours at a nursing home. Although there was an underlying smell of urine and the decor needed a major face-lift, I really cherished spending time with the elderly residents, who enjoyed telling (and often, re-telling) their love stories, war stories and their youth stories. I gained a lot from their wisdom and they taught me a lot about humility.
VOLUNTEERING IN THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY
I saw the value of volunteering my time so when the opportunity came up, I spent a year volunteering for the SBS radio program, and in particular, the Filipino language program in which I participated in recording segments on various issues we felt would be beneficial and entertaining to our listeners, which mainly consisted of Filipino youth. I learnt a lot about my own culture and grew to appreciate even more where I came from.
A few years later, as a consequence of my interest in fashion, I then moved into volunteering at a retail fabric store and also volunteering at the Melbourne Fashion Festivals in which I gained valuable insight into the backstage goings-on of the industry.
And now this Saturday I will be volunteering for the ALP and doing my little bit to help them win the federal election, even if it is just handing out pamphlets and helping people fill out their ballots. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than to support a party I believe in.
So I encourage people to volunteer their time to whatever causes move them and encourage them to become engaged in the community in which they live.
Not only because giving back to the community is rewarding, but you also gain some valuable skills, get some life experience and meet some wonderful people along the way.