Hira Potiki, a full-time employee at Victoria University, volunteers as a part-time interviewer every Wednesday evening with Volunteer Wellington. “I like this work. It gives me a chance to help people match their skills to potential voluntary roles. It is also a great complement to my paid job as it lets me talk to people face-to-face.” While talking with Hira about her volunteering experiences, I found her drive stems from the fulfillment of having done just a little, but to have made a large difference in the life of one person.
“I interviewed a girl who was passionate about dancing and she was very interested in a voluntary role working with adults with disabilities, teaching them dance movements. But unfortunately, the role had gone by this time.” Instead of concluding the interview by telling her that the role had gone, Hira referred her to the organization directly. In light of the young woman’s experience and skills, the organization created a new voluntary role especially for her. This young woman told Hira that she believed this voluntary opportunity could bring her career dream closer to reality.
For people like Hira, the excuse that ‘I’m sorry but I’m an ordinary person too small to be able to make a difference’ no longer has any weight.
One of the reasons that people volunteer is that the role is tied to something they’re passionate about. Elizabeth Walker is a woman who enjoys spending her time helping people in need. Her drive originally came from her family, her grandmother worked as a volunteer in a bookstore and her auntie works in the volunteering community. “Thanks to my family who consider volunteering to be a positive action that a person should take on, I’ve been inspired to dedicate some of my time to volunteering.”
From the first day that Elizabeth started her voluntary role as an interviewer, she has been impressed by so many people who share the same belief, the belief that one does not have to be a great figure to help bring about a positive change to our world. Elizabeth told me of a young woman she interviewed, who was intent on finding a volunteering role in accounting. After Elizabeth helped her explore all of the volunteer vacancies, the woman decided to take a voluntary role to work with children rather than one as an accountant.
Elizabeth asked her why she made this decision. She said, “That’s close to my heart”. This simple but strong answer encouraged Elizabeth to be tied to her passion of volunteering till this day.
This is part 2 in a 3-part series.
Part 3 to follow next week.
By Ann Liu
(Ann is a journalist from China, married to a Wellingtonian and enjoying carrying out volunteer writing assignments with Volunteer Wellington.)