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Volunteer work as a lifestyle offering self-development

12:23:00 PM

Volunteer work helps you to get to know yourself
Greta Kaupmees, magazine “Naised” (“Women”)

Translation: Liina Martinson, Helpific
What is the impellent power that motivates people to function? Do we only work to get paid? Do we only operate to get recognition or emotional charge? Why am I doing something? Every person has probably asked those questions from himself.
Keiu Roosimägi, who is a volunteer in three organizations – Helpific, Tallinn and Harju County Union of Disabled Women, Estonian Neurofibromatosis Union – explains  what volunteer work means.

Volunteer work means offering your time, energy or skills out of your free will and without payment. Statistics show that a third of Estonian population is devoting a part of their free time to volunteer work. Although these activities do not give financial or material reward, one could benefit a lot, for example useful knowledge and skills or new acquaintances.

Why be a volunteer?
For me participating in volunteer work is a lifestyle. Like someone is meditating or doing yoga. In my case this time goes to participating in volunteer activities, approximately 2-6 hours per day.
I am managing those three organizations as a volunteer, I conduct different projects to advance the life of people with special needs, to guarantee them better and more decent opportunities to participate in community life. I also strive for changing the prevailing attitude towards special needs.  Being  a manager, I am doing everything – from writing projects to helping people for example in eating, am a guide person at different events, etc.
I am doing this as I have not found a better way to give a deeper meaning to my life. I know that through this work I am changing the world and making  peoples’ lives better. I am active in fields that are related to human rights and social welfare. Thus, I am related to people.
I am doing all this alongside my main job that brings in money, and alongside my family. The one who does a lot, also manages a lot.
Obviously, every volunteer must have a special world helper’s gene, because volunteers help others or operate mainly in public interest and for the society.
Being a volunteer in several NGO-s myself, I can assure that volunteer work gives a lot to a person. For instance, volunteer work helps you to get to know yourself. You will find out what your strongest sides are, what activities suit you. You can find out whether you are a good team worker, communicator or a leader. Therefore, for example for young people, volunteer work could become an asset in their CV showing their activeness and for those who are still looking for their path in life, it can help to choose the field that suits them the most. Usually people with prior work experience are hired, but where would a student get experience from?
Photo: Sven Tupits

While doing volunteer work, there is a good opportunity to see how an organization or a business works.
In every case, volunteer work enriches your free time and helps you to contribute to the development and welfare of the society. Also, volunteer work often helps to promote an active lifestyle and enables to be in the open air, for example walking the dogs in the shelter, conservation holidays, or tree planting.
Volunteer work has given me a lot of new experience and knowledge, brought many interesting people to my life and opportunities to evolve at a personal level as well as as an entrepreneur. I have been an active volunteer for three years and it has made me a better and a more capable person, including a better mother, woman, friend and entrepreneur. I feel as if I am acquiring a PhD. The knowledge, experience and relations that I have gained through volunteer work, are a valuable and enriching asset to life.
If you would like to try, but don’t know where to start from, you should at first try one.time activities. For example, go to the shelter and walk with homeless dogs or participate in one-day conservation holidays. Firstly, you need to make it clear for yourself, in which field you would like to help along – is it related to kids, youngsters, animals, taking care of the sick or environment cleanliness. To find out what kind of volunteer work suits you, I advise you to be a volunteer in different organizations – this way you can find out what you cherish the most, what comes most naturally to you and what field you would like to get attached the most. At the same time you could think about what interests you – some like to deal with homeless cats, others with kids,  some with people with special needs and some like to write projects and organize events.  In volunteer work as well as in wage-work you need to listen to your heart; what is it that makes you leave the house no matter the weather, what makes you happy.
In reality we also do volunteer work subconsciously – participate in conservation holidays or help an elderly neighbor to go to the store.
You can find special offers for volunteer work from the volunteer work gate. Information about different appeals can be found in social networks, local authorities, Rajaleidja (“Pathfinder”) center, open youth centers, unions and associations in your community. Think through, in which area you would like to contribute your time, energy and skills and bravely let them know about your desire.

* the text has been abbreviated, the article was published in magazine “Naised” (“Women”) in the column “Targa naise nõu” (“Smart woman’s advice”) (number 50/458).

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