Thank you Emily and Genevieve, two lovely young people who volunteered with us, for all their great work, skills, energy, creativity and honesty. The following article shares their insights and feedback on volunteering.
As far as I was concerned only a short time ago, volunteering meant multiple fundraisers and irritating doorknockers that always seemed to be after the same thing (“Even small donation can make a huge impact…”).
To me, and to my classmates, volunteering was an idea and a practice that was reserved for a group that seemed separated from us; an unconnected universe hidden in our own community.
Volunteering was, in short, on my television but not on my mind – it seemed to play out in the media but never appeared in my path. And I suspect that is why today’s youth demographic is viewed as lazy, unmoved by hardship and only motivated to act when they benefit.
Maybe, in actual fact, my generation isn’t so much apathetic as we are unaware. Of course, there are always going to be those who turn a blind eye to the hardship of others, but I cannot possibly believe that there are not others in my generation like myself, who have always wanted to make a positive change, but diodn’t know how it could be done.
I know that over my placement here at The Centre, I have begun to realise that there is in fact a wider community around volunteering, that is far broader than the people tendingthe sausage sizzles at the netball club or in the Bunnings car park. I’ve discovered an overwhelming sensation of support for those who cater to the needs of others, a welcoming and loving community that is dedicated to helping those who need it, and encouraging others to do the same.
The placement revealed to me a new side to volunteering; something a whole lot deeper than doing something to enhance the look of their resume or university application. I’m not going to pretend that I knew about the Volunteer of the Year Awards until I started here, and I’m not going to act like I have always been eager to learn more about all the different aspects of volunteering until recently, but it is with all honesty that I say that from my reading of the work of the nominees and the benefits it has had for their communities, I have never seen a group of people who deserve recognition more.
Now to this, some might say: “But if you think it’s so great, why aren’t other young people interested?” and that question still remains applicable regardless of what I have just said. However, I think the answer to that question can be summarised into just a few words: lack of exposure.
Throughout my week here I’ve oftentimes found myself wondering questions along the lines of “How did I not know about this?” or “How is this not a big deal?” and for every one of those questions, I’ve been able to tie the answer back to a lack of exposure.
At the end of all things, I’ve found that young people seem to not be volunteering purely because they don’t know how or where to look. That was certainly the case with me, and I trust that my generation is not filled purely with mindless, apathetic drones. I honestly believe that all we need is guidance, to be exposed to the endless possibilities we have to aid the communities we live in.
In this era of technological advancement it is as crucial as ever that young people are aware of their opportunities, conscious of the benefits, and are provided with as many opportunities as possible to volunteer. If this isn’t done, who else will carry on the example that has been set by legions of volunteers before them? If we never know just how important volunteering is; how extensive it is and how deeply it runs in the veins of our society, how will it continue to do so?
To shamelessly quote Emma Watson, because “If not now, when? If not [us], who?”