I was recently asked to fill out a personality questionnaire as part of a college assignment. To be honest, I had never heard of these before and I was quite dismissive of the idea of there being just 16 different types of personalities in the world. The results, however, were a bit of a surprise to me because of their accuracy. Straightaway, I could associate with the many character traits of the ‘Advocate’ personality I was assigned and in particular with the career choices of this group.
This got me thinking about the theme selected for the latest Spring edition of the SVP Bulletin: ‘The What, How and Why of SVP’ and something became glaringly obvious. All I could think of was three ‘C’s’: What do we do? – we care; How do we do it? – by caring; and Why do we do it? – because we care. Each of these ‘C’s apply to most, if not everyone involved in SVP, both staff and members. Believe me, there are much easier jobs and voluntary roles out there, with less stress and demands on one’s life, but there is something about SVP that makes it so unique. We, in essence, are a large group of professional and volunteer advocates working diligently to help, and be a voice for people who, at this present moment in their life, are struggling to find their own voice or get by.
For over 10 years I have heard discussions between members along the lines of “Why do we need professional staff?” and, for me personally, making an assumption that staff’s contribution is not of great worth. On the other hand, I have seen staff putting huge expectations on volunteers because they find it difficult to separate out the fact that, while they are paid and working fulltime at the role, volunteers give of their limited time for nothing. Are we forgetting that we are all a family, whether we get paid or volunteer, and our goal is to make our society a more just and equal place? I’m sure if you did a survey on staff, you might find a huge percentage of them also volunteer in Conferences, committees or even other organisations, and very often work way beyond the hours for which they are paid.
In the Spring edition, you will read many stories of how staff are working hard to improve the services SVP provides and how our volunteers have dedicated so much of their lives and their time to helping others. We all play our part in making this a wonderful organisation and, yes, we often moan about how things could be better or changed, but when you see that one person who asked for help smile back at you with a sense of relief, a feeling of being loved and cared for, those moans quickly dissipate and you understand fully in your heart, in your soul and in your mind how and why we do what we do: it’s because we care.