During winter time you sense that many people are extremely aware of poverty, children and youth suffering of hunger and cold as well as different charities and the work we do. People reach out in numbers to support the various causes with donations and labor – all in the good name of Mandela Day and the 67 minutes of your time campaign. And as a charity we are excited to welcome the kind and caring citizens into our circle as we appreciate the money and the time they donate to us, to help us improve our service or our facility. The goodwill of people outnumbers those who turn a blind eye.
Unfortunately, once the excitement is over many of these kind donors and volunteers return to their normal business, only to forget that the service of welfare is rendered all year round and that the needs of the charity remains the same. We do however get people that ask how they can get involved on a more permanent basis.
Volunteerism is a service by a person or a group, that benefits others. At Child Welfare Tshwane, where we work with the most vulnerable members of society, namely the children, we rely on the support and active involvement of volunteers on various levels. We have tutors helping with homework, we have legal and financial people assisting us with guidance and processes and we have (mostly ladies) helping us with fundraising. People that give of themselves (time and money) to help us meet the needs and alleviate the poverty and hardship in the community.
Should this be something you are considering, remember to select a charity that is close to your heart., and portray your passion. If you care deeply for the cause, working as a volunteer will be so much easier for you to do and be rewarding. You will also recognise and identify opportunities for your cause if it is something dear to you. You also need to decide if you want to do a good deed, once off, or if you would prefer to be part of a process at the cause and then sign up for a longer-term commitment and see the change that your efforts bring about.
At Child Welfare Tshwane, we prefer that tutors, for instance, commit for at least one year as children need time to bond with the tutor and we do not want to introduce a new tutor every few months as this disrupts the continuity in the child’s academic support process.
It is important that you be clear on the impact you want to have with your volunteer or charity work. It may be that you want to bring immediate relief against the cold and therefore decide to distribute blankets, beanies or jerseys in the community. Or maybe you want to have a lingering impact and therefore decide to donate a fixed amount per month, to be used for food for children who often receive only one hot meal a day.
“Where do I start?”, you may ask. You can contact Child Welfare Tshwane, so we can get your personal details, a copy of your ID and SAPS clearance (if you wish to work with the children). Then we do a short orientation session with you and see where best we can use your skills and energy in our Organisation.
“What do I have to offer?”, you may ask. Well, sharing your knowledge, skills and time with others is important. You may teach a child to read or use your professional skill and e.g. help us with marketing. You may be able to fix and maintain the property or help to transport children to sport or medical appointments. But we all have certain unique skills that can add value to the cause we support.
Our children need to have positive examples of people who are making a valuable contribution in their communities. They need positive role models – people who can inspire them to greatness!
Volunteerism will also give you a new perspective on life. Maybe you think all people who are dependent on welfare support are strugglers with no dreams and hopes. Yet, when you meet some of these people you may find that despite the blows life has given them, they are still proud people. People who want to be in a different position but who simply do not have the means to change their unfortunate circumstances.
You will learn what humility means and how a simple gesture can be significant! A beanie, a jersey, a hot cup of soup in the winter or maybe some products to help restore the dignity of a woman may change a perception, may lift someone’s spirit and may save a life! To use a changed version of the famous words of Neil Armstrong: “One small gesture of love by man, one giant contribution to uplifting the community”. No support, no effort is too small.
The rewards of volunteerism last longer than a cash reward. The warm feeling you get when you see the smile of a child, accepting a new jersey or blanket is priceless. The happiness you see when you help a child read their first words cannot easily be matched.
We have volunteers that have been helping some of the children in Bramley Child & Youth Care Centre with homework and the results we have seen are amazing. We realise that the hour a week they spend with these children have helped the children to grow in confidence and to master certain skills. We have seen the difference having a weekend family (also volunteers) to visit bring in the lives of children – they get to experience family life as it should be.
Our fundraising events, like golf days and gala dinners, are very successful, because volunteers run with these projects. The commitment and dedication of a group of mostly ladies have been astonishing and we are so grateful that these ladies have taken on the task of raising funds for our Organisation.
Our Board of Management, Financial and Risk Committee and Bramley Specialised Committee also consists of volunteers – people who decided to devote their time and skills to helping with the management of the Organisation. So, there is really a place for every person who wants to do some volunteer work.
We want to ask every person out there to consider getting involved in some or other volunteer project. Do good to others. Offer your time and skills not only your money. You will be surprised at the difference it will bring to your life!