Volunteer work abroad can offer you an unparalleled short-term opportunity to challenge yourself, but there are many ways to pursue rewarding volunteer work without leaving your local area. Besides the lower cost of participation to you if you’re buying a bus ticket (not a plane ticket!), you also have the potential to be involved with something long term: to watch the fruits of your contribution grow over time, to develop a new skill in a meaningful way, and to build a long term relationship with an organisation, its staff and its constituents.
There are many ways that volunteers can help organizations. Volunteers are often a resource that many organizations could not otherwise afford. But that’s not to believe the emphasis should lie on the monetary value of volunteers alone.
“If you gave me all the money in the world to hire all of the staff I needed, I would *still* create high-responsibility roles for volunteers, to give the community a way to be involved in the organization and a direct view of the work we do, to show donors that the community believes in the work we do, to get alternative viewpoints (sometimes volunteers will criticize in ways staff may be reluctant to do), and oh-so-many other non-monetary reasons.” (Jayne Cravens, Volunteer Manager, USA, February 22, 2009)
School systems also often utilise volunteers to increase the quality of the education that they are able to offer to students. Being involved with your child’s school’s Parents Committee is one way, but there are a host of local literacy programs available where you can directly impact on a childs education on a day-to-day basis!
In some countries, research has indicated that whenever the economy is down, the need for volunteers and resources increases greatly. Although it is very difficult to put a dollar value on volunteer time (partly because it may be missing the point!) it is reasonably safe to assume that even in Australia, in times of financial hardship when donations are lower, volunteers may be particularly welcome.
There are a myriad of additional personal benefits of volunteering too: beyond even the very important relationships and skills that you will develop. Volunteering often provides a great amount of perspective. You will be able to see the world in the eyes of those in more need than you, and to act and provide help in that area is highly rewarding. Volunteering is also a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions, that may give you the confidence to one day make a bigger change than you expected! Additionally doing volunteer work you find meaningful and interesting can be a relaxing, energizing escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments. It can provide you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life. It has been known to help combat depression, social isolation, and even promote a longer and healthier life!
But ultimately volunteering is not about you – it’s about other people. Volunteering is a way to become part of a positive change in the world. That’s what matters the most.
All this and more is available to you when you ‘act local’ with volunteering! If you are interested in exploring what this could mean for you in the local area, contact the Liverpool Volunteer Resource Centre.
When arranging a placement, our Volunteer Coordinator considers the candidate’s personal goals, life skills, prior work experience and length of probable commitment, as well as the needs of the host organisation. The final decision regarding the acceptance of a volunteer into a particular program, organisation or project will always be taken by the organisation itself, so you can always be sure that when you are offered a place, you will be welcomed!
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