Carmel, ALONE

Carmel: ‘ALONE gave me the tools and I have gained a friend who I adore’

Managing volunteers with Aware

Aware is a national charity that supports people experiencing low mood, anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.

Mary Nee, Galway Samaritans

With five children, Mary’s time was limited but when she got the chance to volunteer eleven years ago, she never looked back!

Eddie Smyth, Greystones Cancer Support

Eddie Smyth has been volunteering for about five years driving cancer patients to their appointments with both Greystones Cancer Support and Wicklow Cancer Support.

Jason Mulhall, Blessington Tidy Towns

Blessington Tidy Towns Chairperson Jason discusses the impact Tidy Towns volunteers are making in Blessington, Co. Wicklow.

Adam Masterson, Royal Canal Clean Up

Adam Masterson is a student and volunteer who is passionate about protecting our natural environment.

Jack Stephenson, 72 – Former Banker, Singer, Volunteer

Today is the last – but definitely not least – story in our special National Volunteering Week series where we speak to seven volunteers about what they do, why they do it and what advice they have for others. Share your story with us on Twitter using #WhyIVolunteer and #NVW2019.

Jack is a retired banker who loves to play squash and sing in his local choir. Having moved to Waterford in 1969, Jack lives with his wife and has four grown up children and three grandchildren.

Jack has had many a volunteer role in his time but he currently volunteers with the Waterford Volunteering Information Service where he supports tourism in his area as a Meet and Greet volunteer every summer. This involves chatting to people, telling them about attractions in Waterford and the South East and directing them. Jack loves his role because he gets to meet all different types of people and enjoys chatting with them and hearing their stories.

Jack has also been involved in a number of committees as Chair/Secretary/ Treasurer including Dungarvan Lions, Tramore Tourism, Waterford Male Voice Choir and Waterford Choirs Association. He was part of a team that set up a choir of 240 people for the opening ceremony of the Tall Ships in Waterford in 2011.

When we asked Jack why he volunteers he said “Waterford is my home and I want to give something back to my local community. Some of the roles I’ve had like the squash club have been great because I’ve really benefitted from the club and then I was able to help it benefit others. The club gave me great enjoyment so I wanted to give some of that back.”

What advice would Jack have for someone who has never volunteered before? “Just try it, you won’t lose anything by taking that first step. The most important is to enjoy whatever kind of volunteering you do – so make sure it’s something you enjoy and you’ll get the most out of it!”

Sarah Murphy, 36 – Researcher, Business Owner, Volunteer

A wonderful example of skilled volunteering as part of our special National Volunteering Week series where we speak to seven volunteers about what they do, why they do it and what advice they have for others. Share your story with us on Twitter using #WhyIVolunteer and #NVW2019.

Sarah is a Research Consultant and Lecturer in social policy, leadership and management in the community, non-profit and public sector. She has worked in research, policy and management roles in a number of different national and international charities. Sarah moved to Sligo from Dublin with her husband and two young children 18 months ago.

Sarah volunteers on the board of Sligo Volunteer Centre. Given her work as a Research Consultant, she has a particular interest in evaluation, strategic planning and governance. Having been part of a non-profit board when she lived in Dublin, she wanted to find something similar in Sligo. Sarah was particularly keen to find a board volunteer role as she felt she had very specific skills that could really help a small organisation.

Since joining the board, she has taken an active role in helping the Volunteer Centre develop their new strategic plan. Aside from attending board meetings, Sarah has also used her professional skills to support the strategic planning process by analysing previous annual reports and facilitating a focus group among staff to help shape future work.

We asked Sarah if being on a board was a big time commitment given that she has her own consultancy and a young family. “The great thing about being on a board is you can be as active as you would like to be. We meet about 6 times a year but I’ve been a lot more involved this year during the strategic planning process. It can be challenging sometimes with work and childcare but in general it is very manageable, especially when meetings are planned in advance so I can organise around them”.

What advice would she give someone who never volunteered before? “I’d definitely recommend getting involved. Be realistic about the time you can give and then look at what your strengths are and find something that works for you. It is very rewarding and there are so many different volunteering opportunities out there. Even if you only have 2 hours to give every month, that’s a valid commitment and could really help an organisation. I really get a boost from seeing my skills have an impact on the Volunteer Centre. As someone who recently moved to Sligo, I also found it was a great way to learn about the area and the local community.”

Julia Osorio, 48 – Dietician, Migrant, Volunteer

We continue our special National Volunteering Week series where we speak to seven volunteers about what they do, why they do it and what advice they have for others with Julia Osorio. Share your story with us on Twitter using #WhyIVolunteer and #NVW2019.

Originally from Mexico, Julia has been living in Ireland for the last three years. Having spent six years in Spain with her husband and 17 year old daughter (also Julia!), Julia and Julia now live in Co. Louth. Her paediatrician husband, Francisco, will work in a hospital in Spain for a few more years before he joins them here.

Julia has been volunteering all of her life. In Mexico, she gave donations of food and clothing to the local orphanage a few times a year while both her and her husband gave 10% of their private consultation appointments away for free for those who couldn’t afford to pay (Julia is a dietician). In Spain, she was involved with the Red Cross, collecting money and delivering workshops.

Volunteering is a way of life for Julia and something she has instilled in her daughter from an early age. Since arriving in Ireland, Julia and Julia have both volunteered with a number of organisations including the Irish Maritime Festival, fundraising (twice) for MS Ireland, Drogheda Homeless Aid, North East Cancer Research and Education Trust, Drogheda LGBTQ and helped at Drogheda Pride and the Fleadh.

We asked Julia why she has given such a huge part of her life for others. “We are a lucky family – we have work, we have our health and we are together. It’s our duty to share something with the people around us. It’s important for us to integrate into and participate in the community. We can all be better if we share.”

For someone that’s been giving back for so long, is it ever challenging? “Well the Irish weather can be very challenging! It’s not always fun if you’re collecting in the freezing cold and wet. But people always smile and chat to you. You can feel very tired and cold but very happy – you feel warm on the inside after volunteering.”

Carolyn Akintola, 54 – Carer, Activist, Volunteer

Another fantastic story in our special National Volunteering Week series where we speak to seven volunteers about what they do, why they do it and what advice they have for others. Share your story with us on Twitter using #WhyIVolunteer and #NVW2019.

Carolyn is a disability awareness advocate who has been volunteering since she was 12 years old. Having spent 15 years as a carer for her mother, she has once again has the time for volunteering and taken on a number of volunteer roles.

Carolyn volunteers with the South Dublin County Volunteer Corps supporting local events and festivals such as Tallaghtfest. She is a member of the South Dublin County Council Disability Advisory Consultancy Panel and previously volunteered with St. Vincent De Paul for 25 years. Carolyn also volunteers as an inquest juror which sees her sitting on juries for inquest inquiries in Bray and the Coroner’s Court in Dublin a number of times a year.

As a lifelong volunteer, we asked Carolyn what makes her do it and her answer was simple. “If we want to live in a good society, we have to take part and make a contribution. I’ve gained a lot from society as have many others so I feel it’s important to give that back.”

What piece of advice would she give to someone who has never volunteered? “Don’t be a stranger. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just try it and if you don’t like it you can try something else. Don’t give up at the first hurdle, there are so many different things you can do – you’ll find something that suits you.”