When I first took up the offer with iVolunteer, I was all excited to join the team to visit the NGOs and help the under privileged. After the excitement slowly started to fade, I wondered what would drive an employee to get off his regular busy schedule and take time to volunteer. The thought of driving the interest of volunteers to join us for employment engagements made me skeptical. Being a corporate employee once, I experienced the lack of time for extracurricular activities. As days passed by, I got to meet a lot of NGOs/organizations and I understood their needs and concerns. I admire and applaud the work by the staff of these organizations are doing. It is definitely interesting but mostly challenging. I shared these challenges with the employees and I was awestruck with the response I got from them. They were willing and ever ready to help. Some of them took an extra mile to help, too. Seeing this, my excitement, willingness, and enthusiasm was back on track to follow my heart of what I was called to so as an iVolunteer employee. I was fully charged to work with passion to help these volunteers to move from compassion to action.
Initially, I thought it was a cake way (I know we all think the same) until I got in the details of each engagement activity. The results you get out of every engagement are just out of the world – of course, heavenly! The genuine smiles on the faces of beneficiaries, like I just mentioned, is just out of the world. They say, Volunteers are paid in six figures… S-M-I-L-E-S! Ain’t it true?
With every activity/engagement, there comes a list of mistakes, learnings and various other opportunities. Here’s what I learnt from past few months:
- Being Innovative: I know, I know, this is the most over-used term ever. Think out of the box, is another word. I improved so much in this area – to think in a way keeping in mind, employee’s time/skills and the need of the beneficiaries. I loved the fact that the volunteers have come up with creative ways to perform a certain activity in their own style and yet met the needs of the beneficiaries. I must say, I am content with the CEVP (corporate employee volunteering) numbers we were able to achieve in our center (Hyderabad).
- Understanding and Staying Up-To-Date: It’s easier said than one! (sigh!) It is important to understand how the skills of the volunteer can complement the needs of the organization. Also, staying up-to-date on economic, social, technological and environmental trends to keep the volunteer program current and relevant. Example: for activities like making “Paper Pens” and
“Liter of Light” for both these activities, the volunteers had to be trained to make the products. It was time consuming, but we were able to make them. The economical pens and the technological lights were both achievable and useful to the beneficiaries.
- Planning and Preparing Well in Advance: I learnt that the further in advance I prepare the more time I have to remedy any unforeseen obstacles during the engagement. It’s all about being ready! This in return will save time, plus, reduces the stress. I totally agree this statement — “Planning leads to awareness. Preparation leads to readiness.” This is the thumb-rule for me at any given day, because this makes me confident of what I am supposed to do.
Above all, I learnt that volunteering gives you an opportunity to change people’s lives, including my own. It gives me the satisfaction of playing an important role in a needy person’s life. I would like to share one such incident; it became a profound memory for me, as well. One morning, I received a call from the principal of the government school who wanted to felicitate me. We painted the walls of this school as a surprise gift for the children who attend this school. These children were touched by the act of kindness and were thrilled to attend a school which almost looked new. It’s evident that they felt the love and care we shared with them. See this, the principal decided to felicitate me the next day. Children came and personally thanked me for this great initiative. The volunteers who participated felt that they can make a difference when they move from compassion to action! Both the beneficiaries and the volunteers were extremely happy on that day. Who says there is no job satisfaction!