What I’ve learned by volunteering — A Corporate Volunteer’s Heartfelt Note!
The greatest gift you can give someone is your time and volunteers do just that and more!
During the pandemic, when I got a chance to volunteer remotely through the Tata Engage volunteering program, I jumped at the opportunity. This was going to be my first time as a volunteer. There were so many different causes to contribute to, from making a greeting card for seniors to learning sign language to creating awareness about cyber security / social causes to a story-telling session with underprivileged kids.
When I started initially, I felt very pleased with myself thinking I was capable of making positive improvements in others’ lives.
My, My, what an illusion I was keeping myself in 😊
In retrospect, I realize that volunteering was not just benefitting the participants but enriching my life so much more as well. The sessions required some prep work to be done and it nudged me into a discipline of researching into my audience group. If it was an educational session for young kids, I had to keep the session engaging with stories and games. If it was a session for young adults, I had to accordingly prepare on the topic facts and skits to make the session interactive. With the seniors, I found myself to be the student and them to be the teachers sharing their myriad experiences about life.
While all this definitely increased my dopamine levels, my existing skills have also got a boost. Volunteering has helped me:
- Gain an increased awareness about social causes
- Empathize with the underprivileged
- Get over the fear of speaking in front an audience
- Understand the importance of preparation even for a 10-minute session
- Plan my communication strategy for clients
- Have a backup plan (always)
- Improve my creative skills
- Learn new tools and designing techniques
- Build my network with people
- Appreciate the hard work that the NGO and partners keep doing behind the scenes
I think every person who volunteers for any cause will vouch from their personal experience how they have also improved in various aspects. Volunteering has made a positive difference in my life and keeps me grounded. It’s an all in all learning journey.
So my dear fellow volunteers and those yet to start your volunteering journey, if ever in doubt, remember this quote from Mahatma Gandhi: The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.