I’d like to begin by telling you a little about my Grandmother, Connie Tulloch. Connie lived in Putaruru for much of her life and was somewhat of a trailblazer. Along with two others she founded the Putaruru branch of Red Cross, helped establish scouting in the town (acting as treasurer for a while), was an active Plunket member and a long-time supporter of the Rotary Club. She helped establish Putaruru’s library and was the first woman school committee member of Putaruru High School. In her spare time Connie played golf (serving as secretary for some time) and was elected a member of the first Putaruru Borough council. She served on the Waikato Hospital Board for 20 years and was chairman for 6 whilst also giving many years’ service to the Ex-Prisoners-of-War Association. Connie received many awards for her community service over the years and I think she was very proud of her achievements and contribution especially given the challenges she would have faced as a woman and solo mother in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. If you could ask her now though, what was the most rewarding part of all of this volunteering and community service she would say the people she met and friends she made along the way.
Volunteering brings so many benefits to individuals. It gives a sense of purpose and structure to our days and keeps us engaging in a positive way with our community. There is plenty of evidence around to show that people who volunteer live happier and healthier lives. When you are volunteering you are also learning new skills and using existing ones to benefit others. When I look at volunteer teams that I’ve been involved with I see the richness that it can bring into people’s lives through expanded networks and personal connections.
Some people say they volunteer for “selfish” reasons - one example would be the person who is feeling isolated after retiring from a busy job or someone who enjoys the warmth and comfort of an organisation’s office rather than their own cold home in the middle of winter. Others will comment that volunteering gives them a reason to get up in the morning and “put their lipstick on” and offers the perfect way to integrate into a new town or city.
Everyone has a different motivation to volunteer but each is a legitimate reason to contribute and make a difference in your community. Volunteering Waikato is an organisation that encourages and supports volunteering throughout the Waikato region. It would be great if everyone who wanted to volunteer could find a role they enjoyed and every organisation could find the right kind and number of volunteers they needed. If you are reading this and want to volunteer or even do more volunteering then please contact us or go to our website and see if you can find a role that would interest you.
We can’t all be trailblazers like Connie but most of us can find time to build some volunteering into our days either by being involved in a special project or event, or on an ongoing basis. Your gift of time will reward you immeasurably. The satisfaction, camaraderie, and sense of having made a difference that you receive will be more than enough thanks for the time and efforts you give.
Chris Atkinson - Regional Co-ordinator - article for Age Concern newsletter