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Voluntary Inspiration

Words by Simon Ruppert

When the corporate bigwigs at Ezra Towers came to me and asked for a story of inspiration I was not quite sure where to start. Pleasing these media moguls who sit behind tinted glass in executive suites is not always easy. The task may have been simple but at this stage there was no subject.

In researching this article I spoke to various people. Each and every time the person who inspired them was famous. Not necessarily from present day, but well-known nonetheless.

In life it is easy to look to popular culture to draw inspiration. In fact most do, however more often than not people whose actions are inspirational are not celebrated in mainstream media. The office girl who helps an old lady cross the road on her lunch break, the man who mows his elderly neighbours lawn, the anonymous donor, these are all people whose actions could inspire.

In the end it was an innocuous comment that lead me to the right person for the interview. On a warm, windy autumn day in the leafy Adelaide suburb of Magill I was busy trying to angle my laptop in a fashion that would allow me to see what I was typing. I was failing miserably. The sun was already forcing me to squint before it reflected off the windows behind me turning my screen into a mirror. As good as I looked that day I needed to see what I was doing and could not. Luckily this was a group project and my colleagues were also eager to call it a day.

As I sat there picturing the journey all the way back to the car and wondering just how I would finish my work in the measly week I had left pleasantries were exchanged and people began to go their separate ways. At this point I overheard someone saying that before they could even start their work they would have to endure walking home for an hour before beginning a shift volunteering for meals on wheels. All of a sudden my 5 minute walk and relaxed week to work on this project seemed quite luxurious.  That comment stuck with me and I decided to ask this girl if she would be happy being interviewed and she kindly accepted.

Nina Karadzić is an 18 year old undergraduate studying a double degree in Journalism and Creative Communication at the University of South Australia and works part-time. This would be enough of a commitment for most people, but despite her busy schedule Nina finds time to help people less fortunate than her.

Why did you get involved in charity work?

“I always had a burning desire to do something for the community and it’s nice to know you’re doing something good. People can be self-centred nowadays but if I was in that position I couldn’t imagine what it would be like without people to help.”

Who do you volunteer for and what does it entail?

“I have been volunteering for Meals on Wheels in Burnside, SA since February of this year. I generally work from 7.15 until 10am on Thursdays. I work in the kitchen preparing food and cleaning. I also get to socialise with some really nice people. We’ve got a great team but could always use more help. It is a great organisation that really does help people who are disadvantaged. It is not just the elderly but also people who can’t go to work, people who can’t walk or have other disabilities.”

How did you hear about the position?

“I had lots of free time in the holidays and wanted to keep myself busy so I decided to look into volunteering. I found Meals on Wheels by searching on Google for places that needed help.”

Is this the first voluntary job you have had?

“During years eight and nine of school I volunteered for Oxfam in Marion, SA. And I will be volunteering at Canteen Australia who recruit people to help with events to help children with cancer have better lives. I plan to volunteer for Save the children however I may have to defer that due to time constraints as I try to balance work and study. Hopefully by the holidays I will have some spare time for them.”

“I am also an animal lover and I am very passionate about their welfare. I’m completely against the unethical treatment of animals and actively campaign against cruelty through such events as the live export rally. I am a member of Animal Australia and try to promote them through social media to help their cause. I was inspired by Lynn White (who is now the campaign director for Animal Australia) and the fantastic work she’s done to promote this issue. As part of this I have been looking to help out at the RSPCA shelter in Wingfield, SA. They have emailed me today so hopefully I will be doing some work there too in the future, however as I don’t currently have my license and it is a bit far away I may have to defer that too.”

How can someone go about volunteering for meals on wheels?

“Just phone or go onto their website and there is a form to fill out, they then contact you to attend an induction day. You are introduced to how it operates and get to meet other volunteers. They will then call to offer you a position as and when they need someone. With Oxfam I was referred by a friend, however simply contact the store directly if you want to help.”

What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a volunteer but is not sure?

“I don’t know! If you’re really passionate about something, nothing should stop you. There should not be any barriers. Just go for it! If it’s something you enjoy why not. From my experience I feel I come away with better values and become a more rounded person. I feel that it builds character which is something that I appreciate.”

Is volunteering more important than simply donating money?

“I’m not sure. It depends on the individual and how involved they want to be. Obviously you need money to donate, but you can volunteer even if you don’t have money. It’s important to get involved in the way that is best for you.”

Volunteering is available to anyone who wants to help the less fortunate. What meeting with Nina showed me was that there are many ways in which you can do something good for society. There’s a good chance there is something you are passionate about. There’s an even better chance that at some point in your life you will receive help from a volunteer. Even if it’s just for one morning a week you can make a big difference to someone’s life.

If you would like to help a charity by donating or volunteering your time a quick Google search will point you in the right direction. Don’t wait for an excuse.

Useful Links for volunteering in your country:
Australia
United States
England
France
Italy
New Zealand
Canada

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