Volunteering is ACE!
Volunteering is ACE!
I have always been a firm believer in volunteering to use my time, talents and skills to help make a difference and to give something back. I know that can sound a bit cheesey but for me it is true. Working a full time and demanding role for a charity, it would be easy to take the attitude that I do enough to 'make this world a better place' and to stick to my '9 to 5' hours (no such thing in the voluntary sector)?! But, I have a thirst for volunteering and by that, I really mean in the true JCI sense, I have a passion to make a difference and a positive impact in my community and to play my tiny part in giving others who through no fault of their own, have not had such a break that I've had. On a personal basis, I have a desire for pushing myself outside my comfort zones, a need to continually develop and grow.
Volunteering is and always should be fun - giving that feel good factor and the warm fuzzy glow with the sense of satisfaction that you have made a difference. On a personal basis, I really value how much my volunteering experiences over the years have developed me as a person - the extent to which my confidence has grown, my public speaking skills developed and learning how to work effectively (and even not so well) in a team, has been priceless!
At my local JCI Chamber in Sheffield, I am pleased to say there are countless examples of our members 'inspiring action' and giving their time, talents and skills to make a positive impact in the community. Recently some of our members took part in the Sheffield Half Marathon, running (or walking) just over 13 miles to raise funds for locals causes. I wasn't the only one who had sweats at the thought of doing that (maybe one year!) so instead volunteered on the day - happily making up hundred of lunch packs for the army of volunteers involved on the day and unpacking hundred of bottles of water for the runners, and acting as a marshal for example.
Team Sheffield hard at work running and marshalling at Sheffield Half Marathon
As well as making a difference to the local community, meeting and working with some amazing and inspiring people, developing and learning news skills and giving that warm glow, the cherry on the top, so to speak is that JCI UK are running Active Citizen Experience (ACE) program which gives members the opportunity to log and their volunteering hours, both on JCI projects and volunteering you do outside of JCI.
All you have to do is complete a simple online form once a month that captures the number of hours you have given in a voluntary capacity and then to outline how what you did relates to one of the Millennium Development Goals.
These fall within the broader areas of Environment & Sustainability, Education & Employment or Health. I admit this did take me a few moments to get my head round this, but using the briefing sheet that Soraya the national Community Director had put together and knowing she's always on hand to ask questions (and there is no such thing as a daft question!) made it all the more easier.
What shocked me was the number of hours I give each week and month in a variety of roles and projects. I volunteer on a regular basis for a range of things including JCI, on the SAFE@LAST child protection helpline for children at risk through running away, with my local amateur dramatics group and by helping at 'one off' big events such as marshalling at the 10k run for charity Helen's Trust.
National awareness weeks such as the recent Volunteers Week (1st-7th June) and Small Charities Week (17th-22nd June) help raise the profile of volunteers and the array of community action that goes on, all over the country and indeed the world but we shouldn't rely on just these weeks to reflect on the impact that volunteers make. Please search and follow 'JCISheffield' on Instagram for some brilliant photos of our members inspiring action.
Please search and follow 'JCISheffield' on Instagram for some brilliant photos of our members inspiring action
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