Working at a University and managing a service and leadership programme puts me in contact with some amazing individuals who are volunteering. Many students volunteer, from being on the executive of a sports or cultural club to mentoring fellow students. Hours and hours of commitment, working together and having fun. Volunteering helps you be connected to others and feel part of the institution where you are studying. Students who perhaps come from out of town as well as those who know the place where they study also connect with their community outside the University and give back through charity fundraising, environmental work and specific projects for the social profit sector such as research and marketing. They are very special and this week New Zealand thanks them as we celebrate volunteers with the theme of ‘Building communities through volunteering’ as part of Volunteer Awareness week.
New Zealand is leading a nation for involvement of citizens as volunteers. Data from Neilson Research estimated that 1,241,000 people volunteered in 2008, equivalent to 133,799 full-time positions annually.
“We’re sure there are more hours being contributed – just not recorded. Think of all the volunteer hours contributed by marae volunteers, community fairs, resident associations, church groups and online networking – there is a lot of time that is not being recorded” says Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand, Vanisa Dhiru. “The work of volunteers is essential to building resilient communities at home, online, and around the world… it’s about putting your communities and energy into action, and getting the impact we need to ensure all the communities of Aotearoa thrive. We want to make sure this week those 1.2 million volunteers in New Zealand get recognised, and we have more people come along and give some of their time” says Vanisa.
So if you are not volunteering, get going and see if you can enjoy some of the chicken soup for the soul that volunteering and helping others gives you. If you are already doing things, congratulations and thank you for your contribution to our communities.