National Volunteer Week: What's Your Story?
Today we find ourselves in the middle of National Volunteer Week. So I ask the blogTO community: Do you volunteer? Do you want to volunteer? Do you have a volunteer-related story you'd like to share?
Sandeep Aujla, Volunteer Coordinator with Hazel Burns Hospice, sat down with me for an interview about her experiences with volunteering: "It's the most beautiful part of my week. When my week finishes, that's the thing I'm most proud of."
That's how Sandeep described volunteering and the role it plays in her life. At Hazel Burns, she spends time with her client out in the community. Her volunteering hours are spent providing emotional support to her client and practical help for their family.
Though worried at first that she wouldn't be able to find the time between work and school, concerned that she wouldn't be good enough, or wouldn't be able to help, Sandeep took the leap. "There's this fear, but it goes away." She encourages anyone who's thinking of volunteering with any agency or cause to try it just once. She guarantees you'll come back.
Sandeep told of how being a hospice volunteer has brought her closer to her family and friends. "I've learned to value my life and the gifts within that," she says. The stories and experiences that her clients have shared with her have focused her purpose in life, but also broadened her perspective on what really matters.
Asked about the boundaries (mental and material) that stop people from volunteering she says people need to just get off that couch and take the first step. She also pointed out that many organizations reimburse you for many expenses including mileage and parking. "You're not giving anything material; you're only giving your time. And we've got plenty to give and share, so I think people should consider taking that opportunity," she suggests.
Sandeep summed up the concept of volunteerism nicely: "Great memories, life lessons and amazing relationships. I've gotten back threefold what I gave."
Sandeep's volunteering led to her current position as Volunteer Coordinator with Hazel Burns.
Lead photo by blogTO Flickr pooler HighPlainsDrifter Photography
Retouched portrait by Jon Currie
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