It’s time to celebrate volunteering! Thursday 5 December is International Volunteer Day (IVD). Mandated by the UN General Assembly, this is an opportunity to celebrate the work of volunteers.
The United Nations Volunteers programme says, “Volunteering provides opportunities for people … to concretely impact their own lives and play a constructive role in their communities. Through volunteerism, communities around the world often experience strengthened solidarity and inclusion.”
The JNC celebrated our volunteers ahead of International Volunteer Day. We held a thank you event for our wonderful volunteers on 25 November. We have more than two volunteers for every staff member, and our volunteers support or run many of our services and programs. In the past year, their roles have included Administration Assistant, BBQ Group Volunteer, Bus Outing Volunteer, Community Garden Volunteer, Event Assistant, Exercise Group Volunteer, Friendly Phone Calls Volunteer, Knitting Group Facilitator, Let’s Get Digital Tutor, Social Group Shopping Volunteer, and more.
In the words of JNC General Manager Janet Green,
“Volunteers – we couldn’t do it without them.”
Event to celebrate volunteering
The thank you event was held in Kensington, NSW. At this lunchtime event we honoured our volunteers – the top image shows volunteer Board members Janet Kidson, Gillian Elliott (Chair), with JNC General Manager Janet Green. At this event the JNC also celebrated 45 years of working in the community, and shared 45 stories of people for whom the JNC had made a difference. Sixteen of our volunteers featured in these stories, which you can read here.
Benefits of volunteering
As our volunteers attested, there are many reasons to celebrate volunteering. As well as benefiting the community, volunteers themselves benefit. Volunteering, they said, offers them …
A sense of inclusion
“My underlying reasons for volunteering are personal: I know exactly how it feels to be in a new and foreign country and have significant language barriers. I was alienated and excluded when I arrived in Australia at 11 years from Europe in the 1960s with no English and a big cultural divide. Teaching English is a way I can give back to the community but, more importantly, help individuals to overcome the similar language and cultural barriers I was once all too familiar with.” Yaffa
A sense of connection
“Volunteering at JNC has enabled me to connect directly to the community and hopefully help to make it a better place. Some people I speak to in my phone support group haven’t had contact with another person for days and they are so appreciative to be heard.” Deanne
A sense of learning
“I joined The JNC as the Walking Group volunteer. I really love that the group is so multicultural. Everyone walks and talks to everyone and learns something. Running this group has helped me learn a lot more about the local streets. And the group has made me feel more connected. I feel a lot closer to the community.” – Ruth
A sense of reward
“Volunteering with The JNC has allowed me to give back to the community, which is a really rewarding feeling. Through the ‘Let’s Get Digital’ program I’m able to see people grow through exploring and experimenting with technology in a safe and non-judgmental environment, building their confidence and knowledge.” Andrew
A sense of fulfillment
“Volunteering with The JNC helps me live my life more authentically and with a purpose that aligns with my passion and what I believe is important. It gives me an insight into the needs of people in the community, especially those of migrants; and a sense of fulfillment by giving and gaining deep human connection.” Linda
A sense of pride
“I’m proud to volunteer with a community organisation whose vision is to enhance the wellbeing and resilience of individuals and communities. My role on the Board gives me the opportunity to use my business training in a meaningful and fulfilling way and to work with other highly skilled and enthusiastic volunteer Board members and the management team to meet the needs of our local community.” Janet
A sense of shared experience
Yaffa says, “Over the last 20 years I have developed close connections with my students as we have shared life stories with laughter and tears. But most of all it is the respect, empathy, compassion and fun that I have shared with my students which are my greatest reward.”
“Feel connected, gather and become friends”
At the event to celebrate volunteering, JNC Chairperson Gillian Elliott affirmed the essential role volunteers play together with staff in supporting the community. “Our Neighbourhood Centre, our work here and our reason for being is to provide a beacon of hope and support. A point in our community where anyone can find hope and solace; a place people can come to for no other reason than the need to feel connected and a place where we can belong.
Today and every day the staff team and our volunteers apply themselves to ensuring community centres such as ours remain actively engaged with people and place where strangers can gather and become friends, feel a connection and gain support.”
You & your community – stronger through volunteering
Volunteer with us. You’ll impact the lives of people in your community – and your own life. Start by expressing your interest here or contact us on 9349 8200.