The moment that summed up why I volunteer
3 MIN READ
For many volunteers there is a one particular case or a specific moment that stands out for them. The kind of experience that personally sums up why they volunteer even if they never mention it to anyone. We asked one of our employees, Linda, to tell us about her work with St. Vincent de Paul. “I’ve been working with my local St. Vincent de Paul conference for over 10 years. I meet up with other conference members once a week at night and spend 2-3 hours visiting families who have asked for help to see how we can assist them.”
Requests for help
“When it’s back-to-school time, for example, we have requests for short-term help with the costs of books and uniforms. But we might also get requests for help with bigger issues such as rent arrears and match a family’s rent payments for a couple of months. We’re the organisation that people turn to when there’s nobody else to help. It’s about helping without creating dependency.”
The case that summed it why I volunteer
“I do have a case that sums up volunteering for me. We were approached by a family where the husband was working in a good job but his wife had suffered a serious medical setback. They had four kids – children spread in ages from eight to seventeen years old. Their doctor advised the husband to take a year off to look after his wife which meant giving up his job, which he did. They had previously been very organised with their outgoings. They had envelopes in which they put the money they needed for all their bills every month.”
“He became anxious and overwhelmed when suddenly there wasn’t enough money coming in, and we were able to relieve some of the stress he was under by paying the gas and electric. That was a while ago now and we haven’t had any more requests from the family and I know that the husband is doing well and some of the kids have now gone on to have kids of their own.”
Emotional and financial support
“When small things go wrong and you have nothing to fall back on they can soon become an enormous struggle. We helped him after his wife sadly passed away so that he could start work again and pay for the family holiday. Volunteering means attempting to support families both emotionally and financially. When families show their vulnerabilities it is hard not to be moved. This family stands out for me as I was conscious of attempting to ease their grief.”
“Last year, we helped a local young man to go to college to study biochemistry. There was no history of anyone in his family attending third level education before and helping him to take this opportunity helps break the cycle. We have also been able to help a young woman in a household where the parents have not been able to work since the downturn to go to college and study optometry.”
Making a difference
“These two successes are not only great news for the individuals they also show what’s possible for other family members and the local community. Young person goes to college’ might not seem like front page news but you have to understand the challenges that people face every day to really understand what an achievement it can be.”
Under Bank of Ireland’s Give Together initiative, employees can take one paid day to volunteer for a charity of their choice each year. For some people the experience leads to longer term volunteering. Others, like Linda, have been giving their time and skills to good causes for some time.
Make a difference
To donate, volunteer or raise money for St. Vincent de Paul click here.