Written by Ryan Charles Parker
There have been few times in recent history in which we have needed each other so badly. The reasons are plain to all of us. We’re counting on each other, sometimes in the face of great peril. To help another person without expecting reward is good for its own sake. But there are great rewards, because to help another is to help yourself. For mysterious and beautiful reasons, it feels good to be kind to someone who is struggling.
That is what volunteering is about. But don’t take my word for it. We at Volunteer Central have had the pleasure of getting to know some people that do great things in our community. Catching up with a couple of them, they were kind enough to share what they personally got from their volunteer work.
Siham Ahmed is a former winner of our Volunteer of the Month award. She volunteers at Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.). C.A.R.E. provides services to refugees that come to Canada (central Alberta specifically). They provide myriad services, including, for purposes of being brief, interpreters, ESL training and much other important general help with resettlement.
“Volunteering increases self-confidence,” Siham said. “You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.”
Siham isn’t alone in feeling that way. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Isabel Bolhuis about the changes that COVID-19 brought on in the approach to her work with the Adult Literacy Program, run by the Red Deer Public Library. The changes aren’t relevant here, but what is relevant is the fulfillment she gets from her work.
“It is definitely rewarding to be able to use special skills I have in order to help others; for example, my teaching background and in particular working with ESL students, has given me the skills needed to work with students in the Adult Literacy Program,” she told me.
But that is not the only volunteer work she takes part in. Although on hold for now due to the crisis, she is a Caring Cuddler at the hospital. She explained the position to me:
“My volunteer work at the hospital is as a Caring Cuddler. It is a program that offers respite for parents or guardians of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), as well as babies or young children in the pediatric unit.
As the name suggests, I spend time cuddling the baby or child, sometimes singing or humming to them, or if they are old enough reading to or playing with them etc.”
Isabel finds great happiness in the work:
“It makes me feel great joy because I am helping a little one in need of care and attention, I am also helping to relieve some of the pressure and anxiety felt by parents or guardians who are unable to be there for their child at that particular time.”
As these two cases demonstrate, giving of yourself gives back. Even if you volunteer out of a sense of duty, you may find that the real beneficiary is yourself.
As Isabel exclaimed, “volunteering makes me very happy! It brings me great joy!”
And as Siham said, “the more we give, the happier we feel.”
I think that’s clear enough.