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Benefit #1: Meet new people
If you are new to a city or keen to make long-lasting friendships, look no further than volunteering. Through serving your community, you are guaranteed to meet new like-minded people.
Take Frances, Emma and Bob for example. They are New Zealand Red Cross refugee support volunteers, working in a team to help a new Kiwi family settle in Christchurch. Before the family even arrived, the trio worked closely together during six weeks of training, and setting up the new arrivals’ home.
“We’re a really good team. We’ve had a laugh! We’ve been matched together really well. We’re really excited to meet the family. We hope to make them feel as comfortable and as welcome as possible here in New Zealand,” Frances says.
Benefit #2: Learn new skills
Voluntary work is a great way to upskill yourself, challenge yourself or learn something new. Volunteering through an internship or programme can also create a pathway toward your dream job.
For Valentina, who arrived from Russia with her family three years ago, being a Red Cross Shop volunteer helped improve her English and develop useful retail skills.
“I’ve learned about merchandising, stock management, pricing, how to communicate with customers, and now I’m learning how to supervise other volunteers,” says Valentina.
Benefit #3: Keep active
Perhaps you’ve retired and are looking for an opportunity to get out of the house, or have a job that keeps you stuck behind a desk. Whatever your reason, as a volunteer you’re sure to keep active while you help your community.
Being a Meals on Wheels volunteer has certainly kept Jenny active over the years – whether it was during her school holidays as a child with her mum in Auckland, or in the last 15 years in Mosgiel after retiring.“I always thought when I’d retire I’d do some sort of volunteer work, so when the time came, I signed up to be a Meals on Wheels driver. I enjoy it. It keeps me active,” explains Jenny.
Benefit #4: Gain confidence
Volunteering can also be a great way to build self-confidence. In a volunteer role that challenges you, you’ll grow in confidence by stepping outside your comfort zone. Volunteering can give you a sense of pride, purpose and identity.
Francesca, one of our Disaster Welfare and Support Team members, says “Joining the Disaster Welfare Support Team has been a huge help to me in gaining more confidence, connecting with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and doing new things.”
“For example, it’s given me the confidence to stand up in front of people and practice what I know. Or sometimes say ‘I don’t know this’ and ask for help, which is very important,” she says.
Benefit #5: Give back
You can give back to your community in many different ways, by donating money or giving your time. No matter how you do it, giving back to your community will touch many people’s lives.
Raha is a refugee support volunteer who has a refugee background. Volunteering allows her to give back to the communities who welcomed her when she first arrived.
“That’s why I became a refugee support volunteer, because I saw how the volunteers were helping us and how kind they are. I wanted to be like them and help people,” Raha says.
Benefit #6: Help build strong communities
Through donating your time, energy and skills to help others, you are making your community a better place. Strong community bonds encourage more caring and open communication among people, which can help cultivate supportive and safer neighbourhoods.
Mendelson relocated to New Zealand last year after a decade long career volunteering with Philippine Red Cross, where he helped strengthen local communities as part of their disaster response team. He’s now continuing his passion for volunteering with our Disaster Welfare and Support Team in Auckland.
“It’s very important to involve the community and to teach them disaster preparedness. You spread the message and ensure that communities are better prepared,” says Mendelson.
Benefit #7: See the bigger picture
Another amazing motivator for volunteering is the insightful, real-world experiences that volunteers gain in the field.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is a global humanitarian network of 80 million people that helps those facing disaster, conflict and health and social problems. Joining Red Cross gives you the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself and to connect with other Red Cross volunteers around the globe.
For Ash, one of our international humanitarian law (IHL) champions, feeling part of something larger than himself is a big part of why he’s involved with Red Cross. With a background in law and a passion for humanitarian work, promoting IHL gives Ash a sense purpose.
There are plenty of ways you can reap the benefits of volunteering with us. As a New Zealand Red Cross volunteer, you could help people discover unique items in a Red Cross Shop or help a family new to Aotearoa settle in your community. Whatever your interests, there are plenty of opportunities for you to be involved.