Written and compiled by Banu Raghuraman
We celebrate the National Volunteer Week.. nay.. Month, by featuring three of our volunteers who have given their support to Endeavour on many projects. Regardless of the background and skill sets they bring to the table, they are all united by the common goal of helping an Endeavour client with their challenges (click here to see what Endeavour offers).
Donald Wallace is a current project advisor and a past Engagement Manager. He is also the Executive Director at Ontario Centre for Engineering and Public Policy.
Arthur Kong is a past Endeavour consultant and an Engagement Manager. He is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of ProudPolitics Canada.
Jeannette Ng is a current Engagement Manager and has been actively involved in Endeavour in many roles from starting off as a consultant to being on the client selection committee.
1. How long have you been volunteering?
Donald: I’ve been volunteering for more than 30 years. My first significant involvement was running a workplace campaign for the United Way. I was very proud that I more than doubled donations that year.
Jeannette: I don’t recall when I started volunteering, but my first significant experiences were my grades nine and ten summers, when I spent time at a hospital helping visitors at the front desk, in radiology and in the neonatal intensive care unit NICU.
Arthur: I have been volunteering since I was 10 years old.
2. Why is volunteering important to you?
Donald: It connects me both to people and to community. Canadians volunteer more than most other nationalities; it’s what we do. Volunteering is at the very heart of our civil society and I feel that it’s a fulfillment of my duties as a citizen.
Jeannette: Volunteering is about contributing my time and skills towards activities that are personally-motivating. While I don’t have as much free time as I’d like, volunteering allows me to ensure that some of that time is spent productively. As well, I am able to stay connected with a variety of causes and meet like-minded young professionals.
Arthur: People always ask me, “So is what you’re doing paid or volunteer?” My answer to that question is that the monetary return dichotomy over simplifies and dilutes the value that volunteering brings. To me it is about the bigger picture and about creating change in our communities. As I continue to get involved with different initiatives, I realize that there are different avenues to create an impact beyond the typical institutions like politics, government, corporations and academia. As our world continues to become more connected through technological advances, like social media, the non-profit and grassroots world is becoming more powerful and influential. More and more people are able to bring people with different skills and backgrounds together, with minimal resources, to solve our communities most complex issues. This is why volunteering is important to me. Let’s take our communities into our own hands. Let’s quit complaining and not wait for institutions to create the change we want to see in the world.
3. What have you learnt as a volunteer?
Donald: Many organizations, particularly small social service agencies, cannot function without volunteers. Managing volunteers effectively is a significant challenge for our not-for-profit sector. It’s a real art.
Jeannette: Every person can create a positive community impact if they are focused and purposeful in how they choose to spend their time, skills and resources.
Arthur: The most important lesson that I have learnt volunteering is to know why you are out there. I encourage everyone to take time and dig deeper into the “why”, beyond the typical answer of “I want to give back to the community”. Only through this introspective process will your volunteer initiatives become more meaningful and enriched. Understanding the “why” and the “what” (i.e. what issues are important to me, what questions do I want answered, what skills do I want to gain, why do I want to volunteer for this initiative) will take your experiences beyond the typical “task-oriented” nature of volunteering, into experiences of idea generation, problem solving, and change leadership.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article on our blog.