What children’s books can teach us about volunteering
Aoife Clerkin takes some of her favourite quotes and applies them to volunteering
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"Volunteering can expand your horizon and expose you to a wide range of people from different walks of life"
While volunteering recently with a children’s charity, I spoke to a child about her favourite books. She liked books about adventures, books that made her laugh and books about girls just like her. Our conversation got me thinking that there’s so much overlap between the lessons we learn as children and our values as we grow up. As National Volunteering Week is coming up I decided to use some quotes from children’s books to highlight the benefits of volunteering.
"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!" (Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!)
Volunteering can help to shape your future. Often volunteering in an organisation can lead to increased opportunities and sometimes even career progression. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a photographer you might volunteer to take photos for a charity event which you could then add to your portfolio of work.
"Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open" (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Volunteering can expand your horizons. Volunteering can expose you to a wide range of people from different walks of life. Volunteering might even enable you to travel if you seek opportunities overseas. Have you ever imagined what it would be like to work in the slums of Mumbai, a hospital in Tanzania or the rainforest in Peru?
"You’re BRAVER than you believe, and STRONGER than you seem, and SMARTER than you think." (A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh)
Volunteering can enable you to discover new talents within yourself. When you volunteer you get to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone which can result in increased feelings of pride and accomplishment. For example, you might never have thought that you were a people person but you volunteer with a local helpline which changes your mind.
"A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men" (Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator)
Volunteering can be lots of fun. Giving your time to a cause you’re passionate about can provide an escape from the commitments of school, work and family. Choosing to volunteer with an organisation that aligns with one of your hobbies can also be really energising. For example, if you’re a creative person with little opportunities to express your creativity, volunteering with an arts and crafts group could be extremely fulfilling.
"We’ll eat you up we love you so" (Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are)
Volunteering can help you make connections. When you volunteer you become part of a community of like-minded people who can provide a valuable support system throughout life. Finding a mentor within an organisation can also be very helpful. For example, you aspire to work as a vet and you spend some time volunteering with an animal charity. During that time you work with the CEO who sees how fantastic you are and can then act as a guide and referee for you throughout your career.
"The more he gave away… the more delighted he became" (Marcus Pfister, The Rainbow Fish)
Volunteering can make you happier. There are many studies showing that volunteering results in increased happiness and some studies even claim that volunteering can help you live longer. By volunteering you become part of something bigger than yourself and develop an active social and community life. For example, volunteering with your local youth group may enable you to reconnect with your community resulting in increased feelings of happiness.