We sometimes hear criticism from the public that we are giving to the wrong people or that our volunteers can be judgemental and this often angers me. When someone decides to join a voluntary or community based organisation it is usually because they want to make a difference in their community. They are moved or affected by what they are seeing or have experienced in their own lives or someone close to them. As Gandhi once said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.
When someone joins an organisation they join as the person, flaws and all. They do not receive a special cape, which gives them superhero powers and eradicates all the human negative qualities, which we ALL commonly share.
Do they get it wrong sometimes? Of course, but they get it right most of the time and the fact that they have decided to give of their time so freely is admirable. We have volunteers who go out in all types of weather, week after week, never asking for anything in return. They do this because they want to, because they see the pain people are suffering through poverty, social exclusion and loneliness.
Ask any volunteer why they do it, why they endure the cold winter conditions, verbal abuse or judgment, and they will all tell you it is because they care and want a better and equal society for all.
In the latest edition of The SVP Bulletin you will read some amazing stories from all ages of volunteers doing their part to improve the society in which we live together: A school youth Conference in Dublin; SVP Young college students; volunteers visiting people in their homes; resource centres working with refugees and asylum seekers, to welcome them into the Irish society; and volunteers putting smiles on older peoples faces.
We, as an organisation made up of 11,000 volunteers, are always striving to not only make our society a better place to grow up and grow older in, but to make ourselves better at what we do. Let us remember the large numbers of people who, day in and day out, through acts of volunteerism large and small, bring hope to so many. Let us ensure that this wonderful resource, available in abundance, is recognised and supported as it works towards a more prosperous and peaceful world.
In the words of Kofi Annan “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.”
We are always working to improving ourselves as people and to improving how we interact with those we assist and this will always be at the forefront of our work.