December 19, 2012 by projvmovement
Below is a piece written by one of our V – Ambassador. Ryan! It’s a thoughtful piece and read on, perhaps, his personal encounter and experiences of volunteering will inspire you to start volunteering too! 🙂
Volunteering has a meaningful, positive impact on your community and your personal well-being. To me, during my era as a student, volunteering seems to be just a waste of time, as mostly these Community Involvement Programs (CIP) were held after school or during Saturdays. For the sake of the CIP points/hours, most of us would perform such activities unwillingly, wondering why waste sleeping time doing this flag day or instead of chilling out at malls with friends after school, we go about spending the day under the hot scorching sun.
As like most Singaporeans, I have a job that only requires me to work 5 days a week. Weekends were spent idling at home or hanging out with friends at town. 2 years into working, my weekend endeavors reduced and since more weekends were spent at home, why not work part-time? Yet, nearing a year into working full-time and part-time during weekdays and weekends respectively, I felt my life was so empty. There’s a part in me I felt so hollow and somehow I can’t seem to be able to describe why so.
Thinking back, secondary school time when we did CIP, it was for the points/hours. The first volunteering experience I had, not for the sake of the CIP, was during my ITE time. As a student taking “Personal Taxation” as one of my modules, our lecturer had asked if anyone of us were interested to help out once or twice as a IRAS e-filing volunteer to be attached at e-connect centres located at community club across the island. A few of us signed up and after undergoing a short training at IRAS itself, I went to the e-connect centre located at the eastern part of Singapore on 18 March 2006. During the 3.5 hours there, although the e-filing crowd were very few, I was starting to feel the sense of satisfaction when I was able to help the public on their tax matters. Soon, from supposedly at most 2 days of helping out, I found myself going back every weekend till mid April. During this period, I even assisted the e-connect centre manager on guiding the secondary school students who were there mostly for CIP, assisted numerous members of the public on all their tax queries and filing. To see the smiles and making acquaintance with them, continuous thanks from them when I see them out to the door makes me feel happy. Perhaps because of this reason, I was nominated and was one of the ten Outstanding Volunteer awarded by IRAS in June 2006. Due to NS and school commitment, I returned to volunteering in 2010 when I helped out in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore as a Aid Station Crew and in 2011 as a Route Marshal.
It finally dawned upon me the missing piece in my life and why I felt so empty in this “rat-race”, it’s because I had forgotten the most simplest thing of helping others and the joy of seeing an activity coming to an end in success. Making new friends and since I don’t have much mean to contribute to the community, why not contribute my effort and time? With that, in May 2012, I typed the word “volunteering in Singapore” into Google search bar and came across Sgcares as the top results. Unwillingly, I found myself browsing through and signing up for my first activity after going through the online orientation. Yet, the first activity I signed turned out to be unsuccessful. It was supposedly a campsite maintenance somewhere in the west part of Singapore but I spent the whole morning on a Sunday waiting at the supposedly meeting point to find no one had came. I later find out that it was cancelled as the VHO did not see any sign ups hence, although I received the computer-generated email on the confirmation of the event, I, maybe including some others, did not know of such cancellation. However, it did not dampened my mood and will to embark on volunteering. For the past 6 months of volunteering, it has reinforced this point.
During my past experience as a volunteer, I’ve benefited quite a bit and the following are just some of the benefits and reasons to volunteer;
Learning or developing a new skill
Volunteering is the perfect vehicle to discover something you are really good at and develop a new skill, sometimes this new skill is hidden just that it needs to be awaken from deep inside you. I remembered reading in a book, Mahatma Gandhi had said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
One is never too late or too old to learn new skills and I don’t see any reason why you should stop adding to your knowledge just because you are in employment or have finished education. Such skills acquired are examples that can enhance a career and one don’t have to develop skills with the intention of facilitating own career and character. The possibilities are many.
Being part of the community
We sometimes take for granted the community that we live in. It are suffering due to the growth of secular societies but at the same time we can really bridge that expanding gap through volunteering. Volunteering is ultimately about helping others and having an impact on people’s well-being. As a volunteer, you certainly return to society some of the benefits that has been given to you.
Motivation and sense of achievement
Fundamentally, volunteering is about giving own time, energy and skills freely. Unlike many things in life there is choice involved in volunteering. As a volunteer, you’ve decided to help on your own accord, free from pressure to act from others. Volunteers predominantly express a sense of achievement and motivation, and this is ultimately generated from your desire and enthusiasm to help. Sometimes volunteers are regarded as do-gooders and those that hold such view also assume that one person can never make a difference. It may be true that no one person can solve all the world’s problems, but what you can do is make that little corner of the world where you live just that little bit better. One quote states “through our willingness to help others we can learn to be happy rather than depressed”.
New interests and hobbies
Unknowingly to some, we tend to get locked into the society’s “rat-race” of life but volunteering can give that escape to that routine and create a balance in our lives. Finding new interests and hobbies through volunteering can be fun, relaxing and energizing. The energy and sense of fulfillment can carry over to a work situation and sometimes helps to relieve tensions and foster new perspectives for old situations. Sometimes a volunteer experience can lead you or help you discover a hobby or interest you were unaware of. You can strengthen your personal/professional mission and vision by exploring opportunities and expanding your horizons.
Volunteering is a brilliant way to get life experience and perhaps changes your mindset into various things. Whether it was a bonding session with elderly or raising awareness to public on volunteerism through the previous flash mobs we did, you will experience the real world through hands-on work. Volunteers can do almost anything and with the infinite volunteer opportunities available, you could skydive for charity, a chance to experience the ultimate thrill and raise funds to help the charity continue its work.
Meeting diversified people
Volunteering brings together a diverse range of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Both the recipients of your volunteer efforts and your co-workers can be a rich source of inspiration and an excellent way to develop your interpersonal skills. Volunteering also offers an incredible networking opportunity. Not only will you develop lasting personal and professional relationships but it is also a great way to learn about people from all walks of life, different environments, and new industries. You can never know who you will meet or what new things you will learn and what impact this could have on your life.
Sending a positive signal to your employer, teachers, friends and family…
Volunteering reflects and supports a complete picture of you, and gives real examples of your commitment, dedication and interests. Show people what you are passionate about and maybe you will inspire them too! Slowly but surely, my friends are starting to embark on their volunteering experience and isn’t this the Vision of what the movement is all about?