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Benefits of volunteering

28/03/2022

Why it’s worth giving back.

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We’ve seen the resilience of people in our communities coming together over the past few years to overcome the challenges of devastating bushfires, floods and a global pandemic.

While charities and organisations are usually the first to respond in times of need, quite often these services rely heavily on people power to get support where it needs to go.

Along with being incredibly rewarding, volunteering can provide significant benefits to your community and create lasting social change.

Why should I get involved with volunteering?

While Covid halted a lot of services, organisations like Make A Difference (MAD) based in Port Macquarie are bouncing back and even expanding their services with the help of new and existing volunteers.

MAD provides meals for locals experiencing homelessness and provides emergency assistance to the Mid North Coast community in times of need.

Volunteer Coordinator, Karen, said issues facing the community don’t go away during disasters and that it’s the volunteers who help them reach those most vulnerable.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our organisation – without them we couldn’t run our meal services,” Karen said.

“Awareness of and advocacy for the disadvantaged and marginalised in our community can lead to long term social change. Volunteering allows us to do exactly that – advocate for better services and raise awareness of where our friends are falling through the gaps, so we can help them to help themselves.”

The Making A Difference food truck.

What’s involved with volunteering?

Whether you’re interested in helping animals, the environment or people, volunteering is suitable for everyone and you can choose from a range of different options that align with your interests or skills.

“People can absolutely align themselves with their specific skill set, or step out of their comfort zones and try something new,” Karen said.

“Volunteering activities within MAD range from driving our van, cooking the BBQ, making coffees or getting involved in our fundraising events.”

Volunteers will also usually receive training from the organisation to learn what’s involved.

“Along with an induction, we have experienced and committed volunteers working alongside newer members to show them the ropes and help build their confidence,” Karen said.

Newcastle Permanent’s Port Macquarie Branch Manager, Sam, has been an active volunteer for more than 20 years and recently became involved with MAD to help give back to the community.

“We’ve been helping the community ever since our branch opened in 2005 across local activities like Surf Life Saving, Surfing on the Spectrum, Mid North Coast Soccer and now MAD,” Sam said.

“We’ll be putting our hospitality and barista skills to good use with the MAD food truck by helping to prep, cook and serve meals to those in need. We’ll also be helping with fundraising activities and firing up the coffee machine at local markets, festivals and events when we can.”

What will I get out of volunteering?

Volunteering provides purpose and an opportunity to connect with people on a whole new level. It can be humbling and a life changing experience, not just for the people you help but also for your own personal growth and development.

“Volunteering gives you such an incredible buzz, increases your confidence and benefits so many people,” Karen said.

“Along with being able to restore hope and dignity to those in times of need, it’s wonderful to see our volunteers grow with confidence over time and come out of their shells. We’re also fortunate to be able to offer our volunteers training in making barista coffee, so they can learn new skills that might lead to new opportunities for themselves.”

For Sam and the branch staff, it’s all about contributing to the community they’re part of and seeing the positive impacts firsthand.

“It makes you feel good knowing you are helping someone and it helps put your own troubles in perspective,” Sam said.

“How could you not want to get involved when you hear stories of how you can help make a difference to someone’s day?”

How do I get involved with volunteering?

Following an organisation on social media is a great way to get a feel for what they do. When you’re ready, you can start by checking out their website where you’ll usually find contact details or instructions on how you can reach out.

Volunteering myths

  • I don’t have the time: Whether you have 1 hour or days to spare, organisations will generally be able to find a shift that suits your availability.
  • I won’t be able to help: Everyone has their strengths and you can align those with a particular activity that suits, or explore the opportunity to try something new in a supportive environment.
  • A donation would be better: While monetary donations are welcomed and important, sometimes providing company, lending a hand or having a chat with someone can be incredibly powerful.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. We do not recommend any third party products or services and we are not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and we do not endorse their content. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication.

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