Search For Volunteering Opportunities

Search for Volunteering Opportunities

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Interviewer:  Tell us a bit about yourselves.

Kendra:  I’m a student at Queens, I’m in first year and I do a lot of volunteering.  I started with Volunteer Now for the Belfast Marathon and I just kept going to stuff.

Helga:  I’m Kendra’s mom, I have three children and I run my own business.  I’m a psychologist, so I do a lot of research and strategic planning and things like that in my day job.

Interviewer:  For Kendra this might be related to the studies, but not entirely connected to your daily life: What are your passions, interests?

Kendra:  I act in psychology; I like sort of learn about people and how people act and how to help people as well.  And I think that drove me to volunteering, just wanting to help people.  I’m also beginning to like photography and things like that.

Helga:  I have three, well.. two teenage kids so I don’t have a lot of free time but the time I do have, I do ceramics for relaxation, and I’ve also just got a beehive.

Interviewer:  Do you remember the first time you volunteered?

Kendra:  Well, the first time I volunteered, I think I was with the Red Cross.  I was 15 and volunteered at different National Trust locations, doing events and first-aid with the Red Cross.

Interviewer:  Do you remember why you got involved with Volunteer Now?

Kendra:  Well, I was originally searching for opportunities through the Volunteer Now website and found different volunteering aspects through that.  And then Raquel contacted me and asked me to do the Belfast Marathon with the events team and then I just ended up doing other Events with Volunteer Now.

Helga:  Well, I was doing some volunteering with Coding Club for Young People in Banbridge, CoderDojo Banbridge.  So that was getting grant applications, raising money and helping settle parents and kids into the session while the mentors did all the coding with them.  Kendra helped out with that as well right at the very start.  And then I got involved with Volunteer Now because Kendra had been asked to do the volunteering at the vaccination centre and she said “hey mom, this would be good for you.  You would enjoy this.”  So she was right. I came along and I really enjoyed it.

Interviewer:  Do you normally volunteer in the same projects or separately?

Helga:  I got involved at CoderDojo first and then dragged her into it.  Kendra got involved with Volunteer Now first and then encouraged me into it.

Interviewer:  So you kinda meet half way there.  What do you like most about it?

Kendra:  It’s just something different to do, I think.  It’s different from studying and work.  I gain skills and help people as well.  It’s quite nice to help people and sort of meet different styles of people as well that you wouldn’t normally meet through university.

Helga:  Yeah, I think with the pandemic, with lockdown and the restrictions, I wasn’t as busy with work.  And it really gave me a great opportunity to do something useful.  It gets you out of the house and hopefully it’s going to help get us all out of this pandemic a bit quicker, so it was really good in that way – and nice to meet different people.  No matter who you meet in the volunteer team, they’re all from very different backgrounds, but they’re there because they want to help people.  So it’s a good bunch of people to be around.

Interviewer:  Are there any funny stories or interesting moments from your volunteering journey that you would like to share?

Helga:  I think for me, one of the standout moments volunteering with the CoderDojo project was when we took the kids down to Dublin to a coding event and the club won “coolest Dojo in the world”, which was quite a big thing and they brought the kids and mentors up onto the stage.  But then there were another couple of volunteer parents, myself and Anna, who weren’t going to go up on the stage.  But they insisted we did because we’re all part of the volunteer group – and that was really nice that it happened.

Helga:  At the vaccination centre I enjoy seeing Kendra directing people.  I suppose volunteering encourages you to do things yourself that you maybe don’t think you can do.  That’s really great.  But I think when you’re volunteering with family, it gives you the chance to see your family and do things as well, which is really cool.

Kendra:  It was funny. I actually brought dad to one of the Belfast marathons that I volunteered at.  We were directing traffic for the marathon.  It was funny to see dad because I never seen my dad in that sort of a scenario… Like talking to people and things like that, it was a bit weird to see, but… He said that it was really different and it was just something good to do.  Yeah, that’s the weirdest thing I’ve experienced in my four years of volunteering is seeing my dad… *laughs*… directing a crowd.

Interviewer:  Anything else that you would like to take this opportunity to share?

Helga:  I mean, I think if anyone is thinking about volunteering – give it a go, because it’s not that you have to sign up to do something like a day, a week for the rest of your life.  For all the different things you get to try out, there’ll be something there that you enjoy.  So it might just be an hour that you can give of your time or it might be a day, but it will be something that interests you.  I was surprised to see just how many different types of things there are that you can get involved in.

Kendra:  You can just be a one off thing if you just kind of want to get out and do something.  I can’t really commit myself to one day a week.  So it’s still nice to be able to help people in your own free time as well.  You’re not pushed into doing it regularly.  So I think that’s really good.  If you don’t have a lot of free time, you can still do like one event and it still makes a massive difference, even though you’re only sort of giving a day of your time.

Helga:  This is completely out of sequence, but probably the funniest thing that happened to me at the vaccination centre was… We have different stations at the vaccination centre.  The volunteers all have different responsibilities.  But I was in charge of opening the door and letting people out after they’ve had their vaccination.  And there was an elderly priest who was coming out the door.  And I have been talking to him earlier because I’ve been doing the queue at that stage and he’s a really, really nice, lovely friendly man.  And he obviously was wanting to bless me and because of social distance he couldn’t.  So he took his hat off and said “bless you, you’re a child of God”, and went on his way.  And I did not know what to say to him, but it was a lovely moment and one that I will remember.

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