“Christmas CAREboxes prepared and delivered by our volunteers for some of the clients we served this year” – says it all, really. However, it’s more than volunteers buying some food items, packing them in cardboard boxes and then delivering these CAREboxes around the city, helping marginalised and vulnerable persons. Recently, STC introduced “Reflective” moments, starting with Directors meetings. Talking all-business means Directors (myself included) can sometimes lose the personal significance of what we do as volunteers. So Directors began intentionally reflecting on key moments that touched them personally as volunteers.
Likewise, during distribution of CAREboxes on 9 December, we asked volunteers to also “Reflect” on the significance of what they were involved in: the sense of community that volunteers have together around a cause; the value and impact that simple acts of kindness can have; how meaningful volunteering experiences impact volunteers themselves. What we do on a voluntary basis can point to who we are and helps define our identity. Reflecting and asking ourselves “what motivates me to volunteer?” can enhance the volunteering experience for the volunteer and STC as a volunteer-involving organisation. Personally I’ve been involved in volunteering for most of my life, starting in the Scouts as a boy then with the Simon Community as a teenager, with volunteering enriching my life the most when I reflected on my motivations. It was pretty easy to spot the positive motivations – more challenging identifying the ugly stuff it threw up sometimes. I’d like to think my motivations matured and became more sophisticated over time including up to my present volunteering engagement with STC. Now it’s more about “Love your neighbour as yourself”, which includes inviting others to experience the joy of giving by elevating the perspective volunteers have of themselves and others around them.
How we physically help others as volunteers in STC may be simple, but it can have a profound effect on our lives, if we let it. Others have realised this in life too: “without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people” (Albert Einstein).