It was a standing joke at the school P&C meetings: if you weren’t there for the fete organising meeting or the AGM, you’d be volunteered. There were never enough hands up to fill tasks.
I fancy myself as a bit of a baker so I’d readily offer to be on the cake stall and I remember with fondness a rather well-known legal beagle who deliberated earnestly not about the number of hamburger buns his BBQ stall would need but the size of the buns: “Brian’s buns” caused much mirth – and his burgers tasted great!
When the kids finished school, I actually missed not being involved in the school committees, tuckshop, sports and scouts. I had to admit I was addicted to the ‘helper’s high’ – a powerful physical and emotional feeling experienced when directly helping others. And I was surprised, even delighted, to hear that the young people I’d raised were missing the social justice causes they’d been introduced to in high school. Gladly, we’ve all found new opportunities – mine including Saturday morning laughter club, a rural outreach support organisation and refugees.
Associated Professor Dr Thomas Nielsen from the University of Canberra advocates a ‘curriculum of giving’.
His research shows that giving and service to others increases wellbeing and academic outcomes in students.
“Sustainable wellbeing comes not from money and consumerism but from having meaningful happiness in our lives,” he says.
“There is one shared denomination for what people across cultures and religions report as giving them happiness in their lives: being something for others.
“Giving is one of the strongest predictors of increasing our health and happiness.”
According to Volunteering Australia, 86% of volunteer-involving organisations need more volunteers.
Perhaps this week, National Volunteer Week, is the time to get involved if you’re not already.
Give happy, live happy…. And laugh!
Do you volunteer? Why? Is it entirely altruistic? Does it matter if we do it to feel good/purposeful ourselves? I’d welcome your experiences.
(c) Heather Grant-Campbell aka Heather Joy, 2016