Get involved with National Volunteer Week
National Volunteer Week runs from 16-22 June 2019. It’s a great way to get involved in your community and to establish some connections that you can maintain all year round. Every year, 1.2 million volunteers give up their time to make sure some of our most important grassroots initiatives run, building and strengthening invaluable community ties. It is estimated that together, New Zealanders add a massive $3.5 billion worth of volunteer hours to non-profit organisations.
It was after spending an entire Sunday watching the championship episodes of Jeopardy on Netflix, that I realised that I probably had some time to give. I had volunteered in the past for one-off events like community planting days and the like, but they were all organised by seeing a flyer and jumping on the opportunity, but now that I was actively looking, I had no idea where to start. With inflexible work times, I found it difficult to find ways to give back during the weekend, but it wasn’t impossible.
The University of Auckland celebrates National Volunteer Week by promoting their own Volunteer Impact Week, where they organise group events that you can register for through Eventbrite. The events span across the week, which means there is bound to be something that can fit into even the busiest of schedules. This year there are a wide range of events including collecting microplastic samples from Shoal Bay and working bees at a number of community locations across Auckland.
There are a variety of websites that host multiple volunteer opportunities like Volunteering Auckland and Seek Volunteer. Some of these require long term commitment, ranging from a couple of hours a week to a couple of hours a month. There are all kinds of roles, from drivers to horse guides to bike repairs, there really is something for everyone. If you’ve got a secret skill or passion that you’d love to share, there’s no doubt that you’ll find a match for it through here. Do Good Jobs is another great website that has a wide variety of volunteering roles, which organisations can advertise free of charge.
I found the key to sustaining the desire to volunteer was finding an organisation that aligns with your values, as many charities rely on volunteers to provide services to New Zealand’s most vulnerable communities. I started my regular volunteering at Auckland City Mission, in their kitchen which provides meals for a number of Aucklanders in desperate need. Skipping the Sunday sleep in to serve meals to the community gave me a greater sense of purpose and I almost always left feeling better than I arrived. I found this role by simply asking around, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the websites above, try letting your wider circle know that you’re on the hunt.
Parkrun is another one of my favourite communities, which I participated in for months before building up the courage to volunteer. Parkrun is a weekly, timed, 5km run/walk that takes place in cities all over the world, it builds community around being active and provides a supportive environment no matter where you are on your fitness journey. As parkrun is free to attend, it is completely reliant on the generosity of volunteers to keep it going. Majority of the roles do not include running, so even if you’re nursing an injury, or just hate running, you could go along and make the event special for someone else.
It can be scary to put yourself out there, so if you can gather a group, or even just one friend to go along, it can make all of the difference. If you are going solo, remember that you won’t be the only one, and no one expects you to be an expert. I’ve never volunteered for a role where I was thrown in the deep end or expected to do something that was wildly out of my capabilities. Most organisations are so grateful that you’re giving up your time, they’ll go above and beyond to make your experience enjoyable. Now there’s nothing stopping you, check out the links and find something that excites you.
Chanelle is a vegan, amateur athlete, social advocate, environmental enthusiast and blogger at mynameischanelle.com.