Have you ever thought about ways in which you could help in your community? It can be very satisfying to help others. Volunteer work can also help to enhance your skills or widen your social contacts. It might even lead to paid work.
Passion for craft
I have a passion for anything hand-made. I have tended to look for volunteering opportunities that suit my crafty interests. I've participated in many craft-related volunteer efforts over the last few years. My work has included making handmade soft toys at Christmas for the Mirabel Foundation. I also contributed craft supplies and recipes to a charity cookbook to raise money for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. My most recent efforts involved organising a group of more than 60 people to participate in a charity Hot Water Bottle Cover exhibition. The exhibition was held at the Open Drawer gallery in Camberwell. It raised funds for The Margaret Pratt Foundation.
Most of my opportunities arose from being connecting with others who enjoy craft. I have found that most people are happy to help others in some way. Helping others gives me the motivation to keep going when times are tough. It also raises my self-esteem. I feel like I'm making a difference. It doesn't matter how small that difference might be.
Making a difference
Phineas Meere also works to make a difference in the community. Phineas is a member of Grit Media. He works in community radio and television. He is a producer and co-host on The Boldness radio program. It is a radio show about disability rights on 3CR. He is also a producer and presenter on television program No Limits. No Limits is shown on Channel 31 in Melbourne and on other community television stations around Australia.
Phineas studied journalism and public relations at university. After graduation he found job opportunities very limited. Volunteering on radio and television has given him the chance to use his journalism skills. It has also given him greater confidence.
Phineas has some great advice on how to get start volunteering. He did not want to just limit himself to disability organisations. His advice is to try to find organisations that you are interested in working with that suit your interests or skills. Don't be discouraged if they're reluctant to take on a person with a disability. Even if there are no current opportunities with them, regularly email or phone them about the possibility of volunteering. Continuing to keep in contact demonstrates that you are keen. When an opportunity does arise, you should be considered.
Ways to volunteer
Victoria's Volunteering Portal (opens new window) has many ideas for ways to volunteer in your community. Not-for-profit organisations can advertise for positions using the website. You can also find information about your rights and responsibilities at the Volunteering Victoria website (opens new window).
Remember that your volunteer opportunity may not be your perfect job. But just by participating, you never know where it might lead. Get out there, give it a try and help make a difference.