In praise of volunteers – the ‘helpers high’
It’s hard to imagine what our community would be like without volunteers, and National Volunteer Week (May 11-17) is an ideal time to acknowledge all the ways volunteers contribute to our community life. For every dollar of sponsorship support we give, there are hundreds of volunteer hours that go into making the most of that dollar. Many community groups and sporting clubs would not survive without the volunteers who give their time, skills and resources.
Jaqui Hall, one of our volunteer directors, has volunteered since 1974 and knows all too well the challenges many groups face to have the funds to exist. She says, ‘I am particularly touched by those groups of quiet volunteers who never look for recognition, serve for infinite periods of time and in roles that have a less obvious return to them personally.’ She understands first hand the need to fundraise to survive and says one of her great joys when groups receive sponsorship is knowing it supports them to them focus on their mission instead of the demands of fundraising. ‘It takes a lot of lamingtons to raise money!’
Our Warburton Visitor Information Centre (VIC) is made possible through the support of volunteers and is the only VIC in Victoria to operate this way. ‘But there are countless examples of people working with ‘heart for service’ instead of ‘fee for service’. In fact based on estimates by Volunteering Australia there are more than 2000 active volunteers in our neighbourhood today!
Volunteering also makes many services and activities (including sports) accessible to a broader range of people by minimising costs. Volunteering is also a form of civic participation that creates ‘bridging networks’, which strengthen communities, spread information and provide for collective problem solving.
And there are plenty of benefits – a strong correlation exists between the wellbeing, happiness health and longevity of people who are emotionally kind and compassionate in their charitable helping activities. As Jaqui says, ‘Volunteering fills you up’.