A recent survey indicates that young people, aged between 20 and 29, make up almost 60% of the total number of volunteers who come through Volunteer Wellington. One of these young adults, Nathalie Harrington is a board member at Volunteer Wellington. “I know people at my age are vibrant and like meeting new friends, so this is a good reason for us to volunteer. But what we may care about more is that volunteering in the local community can benefit our professional resume, especially for those young adults who are new to Wellington, or even new to New Zealand.”
Nathalie takes on at least three roles during her work week – part-time office worker, volunteer interviewer, and full-time student. These different roles obviously all contribute to her choice of life. Nathalie believes this is the “standard” lifestyle of a kiwi student, not sitting back but keeping busy.
“When I was in my training period to be a volunteer interviewer, I met an interviewee who was a refugee and had just come to Wellington. He could hardly speak any English, but he used hand gestures while talking to make himself understood. He was looking for a volunteer position where he would be able to do some manual work to sharpen his skills. He temporarily had some difficulties in finding a paid job, but instead of giving up, he positively decided to take some voluntary work first to adapt to Wellington life. ”
Nathalie told me this man’s strong motivation for a better life persuaded her to help him any way she could through her position. Maybe from that moment, Nathalie realized she was eager to provide every bit of help that she can to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
“As a young adult, I know sometimes we may need a little more patience to let a positive change happen in our life. But while volunteering, we can actually see those people benefit from our help. This is a good way to build the confidence in ourselves that if we put effort into our work then we can get to our goal.”
After I left this office with these volunteers in the late evening, I found the key value from their experiences is that they are using their passion for life to stay on a volunteering journey which is, at the same time, supporting the journey of many other people.
By Ann Liu (Part 3 in a 3-part series)
(Ann is a journalist from China, married to a Wellingtonian and enjoying carrying out volunteer writing assignments with Volunteer Wellington.)