I want to do good in my community, how can I help people?
More and more people want to do good by giving back and are asking the question ‘how can I help people’ in my community? As a nation we’re right up there when it comes to volunteering, currently ranked 6th in the world, with around 1.2 million Kiwis volunteering in our communities every year.
Benefits of Volunteering
Doing good for others can provide us with great satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and purpose, and a meaningful connection to others, something that seems to be sadly lacking in this digital age.
Change only happens when ordinary people get involved. – Barack Obama
Research shows volunteering has a positive impact on our physical and mental health as well as a host of other beneficial byproducts including learning new skills to advance your career, increased self-confidence, mental stimulation, an opportunity to build your support system, and just having fun.
Charity Begins At Home
The more we give, the happier we feel, but where does one start?
There is a well known saying ‘charity begins at home’? Why not look first to your network of family and friends to see how you can help someone. Think about how much time you can, or would be comfortable giving, and what things you like doing that would be no trouble to help someone else out with.
For example, do you love spending time pottering in the garden? If so, is there an opportunity to help a friend or family member spruce up their yard? Do you want to become more physically active? Can you offer to mow the lawn of a friend who is not well and doesn’t have the energy to manage the upkeep of their yard?
How about other things you can help with around the house such as washing windows or sorting out garages? Or perhaps offering to babysit, take someone for a drive for a change of scene, pick up groceries, or taking some newly baked cookies to a neighbour who lives alone to have over a cup of tea. Maybe it could be as simple as committing to a weekly phone call to check in on how someone is doing.
All of these provide excellent opportunities to connect, make someone feel good as well as yourself, and make a difference to someone’s life.
And this was true for me when as part of a #100 Days of Kindness Challenge I volunteered my time to give practical help to some of our Swathe.me platform members in need, as well as signing up as a volunteer for Age Concern, and the Red Cross Former Refugee Resettlement Programme.
One of the highlights for me was delivering Xmas cakes to the elderly in a central Auckland suburb, who all lived alone either in Housing NZ clusters, assisted living housing, big old family villas or granny flats, and seeing their faces light up with joy at the unexpected gift and surprise visit. It certainly was an eye-opener, but a day that still brings a smile to my face.
If things are all sorted closer to home, there are many options further afield. But first, a few tips on getting started. Ask yourself if there is something specific you want to do that you would enjoy that matches your interests, skill set and personality. Then check out organisations online or visit them to get a feel for what they do.
Make sure your level of commitment matches the organisation’s requirements. We all lead busy lives, but volunteering doesn’t have to be long-term or take a considerable amount of time out of each day. It should be fun and rewarding, not just another thing you have to do. There are many simple ways to give and just two to three hours per week offers the most benefit to both you and your chosen cause.
As a Red Cross volunteer, I knew the training and experience I would get would help lay the foundation to fulfil my desire to volunteer overseas in a developing country someday in the future. My fears about overcommitting were unfounded as the programme offered great flexibility, and I also met some pretty cool people who all wanted to give back to their community.
Volunteering Opportunities in NZ
An excellent place to start looking for opportunities is by contacting one of the volunteer centres at Volunteering NZ. You can also approach charities directly to see if they have any openings that fit your experience and skills, or you can ask friends and family if the charities they help out with need any help.
When you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in. – #NVW2018
You could check out opportunities via online volunteering websites such as SEEK Volunteer which brings volunteers and volunteering organisations together. Another organisation, Help Tank NZ, makes it easy for professionals to offer their skills for community projects in need, and Do Good Jobs connects people with volunteer roles at NGOs, charities and social enterprises in New Zealand.
I particularly like the concept of Good Neighbour whose aim is to put ‘neighbour’ back into neighbourhood through simple acts of generosity.
Whichever way you choose to give of your time, compassion and effort, the benefits to one’s self are undeniable, whilst at the same time enriching your community and creating a positive change for the greater good. And who doesn’t want a piece of that?!
Do you have a friend or family member who could do with a helping hand?
Are there specific everyday tasks you can offer to help with that would really make a difference in their life right now?
Swathe.me makes it easy to give that practical support to someone you know, in a way that works for both you and them.
It’s really simple – you just make a list of tasks you can offer to help with; then simply share it with the person you want to help. And it’s FREE!
CLICK HERE to make every day better for someone today.