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Even during good old precedented times (remember those?), you’re unlikely to find someone who wouldn’t say yes to a simple way to improve their happiness and wellbeing.
And while something like a holiday, a sleep-in, or that afternoon doughnut treat might increase your mood in the short term, the positive buzz tends to only last so long.
One proven way to improve both your mental and physical well-being for the long term is through volunteering. While at its core, volunteering may be all about helping others, you might be surprised to know just how much it helps you too.
By volunteering, you can meet new people and forge new friendships and connections, expand your skills, and even find a new career opportunity. It can help you build your self-esteem and confidence levels, all while giving back and making a difference in other people’s lives.
For community organisations, such as the ACT’s largest not-for-profit community organisation Communities at Work, they rely on a team of passionate volunteers to ensure the ongoing delivery of many of their services and programs. Communities at Work’s social programs (community support services) help the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Canberra with food, clothing, accommodation, and crisis support. Their vision is to enrich lives today and shape better futures tomorrow.
Communities at Work has a range of volunteering opportunities, suitable for people of all ages and are particularly beneficial for retirees or students. Their team of dedicated volunteers ensures that many of their services are able to run smoothly, such as the Community Pantries at Tuggeranong and Gungahlin, which provide free and/or discounted healthy food and essential items to those experiencing hardship.
Dianne is a Communities at Work volunteer and has worked at the Gungahlin Pantry for four years. As a retiree, she says she was initially drawn to the role knowing that Communities at Work is helping people who really need a little bit of a hand.
“I really enjoy the interaction with the people. I really, really love the diversity of the people that come in daily, and I really like the fact that now that I’ve been doing it for about four years, and on a regular basis, many of these people know me reasonably well. I know something about their background, where they might have come from, maybe seen their children grow from a new baby to preschool, and I do like that a lot,” says Diane.
Peter has been volunteering at the Gungahlin pantry for five years, and currently does two shifts per week. He was introduced to Communities at Work by his grandson, who worked for the organisation, and he loved the idea that he could make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
“I really like Communities at Work. It’s a very good place to work. And you’re helping others who sometimes have hard lives, they’re down on their fortune, and they’re not doing too well. And it’s good to see them coming out of here with food to eat that night,” he says.
Not only that, but Peter also says he loves his role and the team he gets to work with.
“The people I volunteer with, they’re a great bright bunch of people, and the managerial staff are really good,” he says.
“I enjoy the work every time I come here. Sometimes with a job, you go home, you think, ‘ho hum,’ but you come here, and I go home, and I say to my wife, ‘well, that was a really good day. I enjoyed it a lot’.”
Communities at Work supports its volunteers with the necessary training and skills, as well as provides ongoing support.
“I’ve worked in various jobs and some of the nicest people that I’ve worked with, bosses that is, are the ones I’ve worked with here. They’re a really good bunch and there is no pressure,” says Peter.
Communities at Work publishes all their volunteering opportunities online. To be considered as a volunteer, you just need to fill out an application form via the website, then apply for a Working with Vulnerable People card through Access Canberra, which the team will help you with. Successful applicants are then invited to attend an induction session.
“If you’re thinking of volunteering, I think Communities at Work is a great place to look at. There’s a range of opportunities, like the pantries, and the other activities that the organisation undertakes. So, have a look at what they’ve got on offer, and I’m sure that you will find a very rewarding position for yourself as a volunteer with Communities at Work,” says Diane.
Want to find out more about volunteering with Communities at Work or apply?
Visit the volunteer page on their website
Feature image: Communities at Work Volunteer Dianne at work in the Pantry