No regrets - a volunteering journey

5 Dec 2022 | Articles

Sora Endo wearing a blue shirt, speaking at the Annual Love Awards 2022. Background of red hearts on white board

This is Sora Edno's volunteering journey. Sora is a Yr 12 student at Glendowie College. They presented their story at the 2022 LoVE Awards where Volunteering Auckland launched Rangatahi Te Mahi Tūao - a support guide for community groups engaging youth as volunteers.

Sora's Story
"I have been volunteering for the past 3 years and starting my volunteer journey is definitely one of the best decisions I have made in my life, no regrets. So, the reason why I still volunteer, why I give up my time and give in to my community, I would say it's completely for the enriching experience that it offers.

Since I was a young kid, I always thought volunteering was just a nice thing to do, but as my volunteering journey began, I realised that giving back to my own community has given back to myself.

Volunteering allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and has given me a plethora of valuable lessons that helped me gain crucial life skills.

What got me into volunteering was the Duke of Edinburgh program that I started in year 9 which required me to log in hours for community service. So, I signed up to volunteer at my local Dove Hospice thrift shop in Meadowbank which is only a road up from where I live and ever since I have been volunteering there.

At first, I volunteered because I was voluntold and wanted to achieve the duke of ed awards, but as my volunteering journey continued, I realised the impact that volunteering can achieve on my own community and myself.

The Dove Hospice is a wonderful organization that provides a range of specialist services for people with life-threatening illnesses and those who care about them in order to maintain and enhance their quality of life. There are many dove hospice thrift shops around Auckland that sell quality essentials that were donated by the community and the profit goes to those who are in need.

One day, I was volunteering as usual and a man came up to me and told me how much this dove shop program helped him with his cancer journey. He came in to shop every week and would always appreciate me and the other volunteers and told us how important what we do is for him. I truly treasure this moment because I realised how my actions have contributed to someone's life and how it has somehow made a difference for them.

What really impacted me was the realisation that my actions actually do contribute to my own community for those who are in need.

Volunteering at the dove hospice shop gained me knowledge and experience in what it's like to work at a retail store. I was bound to leave my comfort zone and encounter many different scenarios that I'd never had to deal with before. I had become more confident and learned how to deal with situations in the safest way possible. Volunteering has pushed me out of my comfort zone for the better to help build a more sustainable and safe community and continuously bring joy to those who I help.

One of my favourite parts of volunteering is the people.
The volunteering whanau is filled with amazing people and I am very lucky to have worked with these people over the years. I can truly say that I have shared one of the best and happiest memories with each of these individuals and truly motivated me to keep going. Volunteering with people who are like-minded and enthusiastic boosts motivation and makes each and every job fun and enjoyable.

Volunteering has taught me a lot about teamwork in a group. Working as a team not only completes jobs quicker but also leads to a better outcome. Having different ideas, collaborating, and encouraging each other helps build a more confident and effective outcome. My favourite memory of teamwork during volunteering is when I and the other volunteers had the occasional job to design and dress the mannequins on the display window with seasonal-themed clothes. Through teamwork, we collaborated on our ideas to create the most attractive and inviting outcome which we were very proud of.

The best part about volunteering is the rewarding feeling you gain every hour you help your community. Bringing joy to those around you truly makes you, yourself happier. Every time I leave the dove shop, I definitely feel happier and I always feel a charge of motivation that sparks through my body.

I am also proud to say that I am a part of the Student Volunteer Army and have continuously logged in hours for the past 3 years. I was influenced to join the Student Volunteer Army group by an assembly presentation at school and ever since I have been setting goals to reach certain hours of volunteering to receive the SVA badges.

The SVA program to me is very important because it makes me feel connected to the other volunteers around New Zealand and truly keeps me going and gaining more hours. SVA awards have allowed me to feel recognized for the service that I have done and have motivated me to aim to become a long-life volunteer.

Volunteering truly makes you a better person and that itself should be the reason to start or keep volunteering in the future.

Advice for the future of youth volunteering
For the youth volunteers, I believe that finding a long-term reason to continue to give back to the community is an important step in a volunteer journey. Being passionate about a mission and setting goals to achieve each step is what will keep you motivated and have that boost of energy to volunteer and help the community.

Schools can also greatly advertise the Student Volunteer Army to young students as it is a great way to get them involved in community service. The idea of logging in hours and earning badges is something that is very rewarding and it will motivate young volunteers to do more for their community, and one day they can become long-term volunteers because they will realise the impact that they are creating in their community.

To further help young people succeed in their volunteer journey, they must see themselves as leaders and role models so that they can be a good influence to their schools and community. Individuals will engage those they look up to and are most likely to become a volunteer themselves. I can say that this is true because I myself was inspired and influenced by my school's service leaders which led me to volunteering and joining the school SVA group.

Also, it is important that volunteers work together. Volunteering together not only is fun but also means forming strong bonds between individuals to create a stronger community, working on being happier, more understanding, and more caring. This will then eventually inspire other people to do the same and so on and so on. Like a chain reaction, neighbours to neighbours, community to community, working together influences other individuals to be their best selves.

To the community groups, it's important to spread the mission and the goal, this is key to motivating each volunteer and inspiring them to do their very best. Also, spread the stories of those who have been impacted by these groups because that is what shows what each volunteer has done and contributed to. Stories can show how much of an impact volunteering is to the community and this will give volunteers the honour to say that they are making a difference. I can truly say how moved I was by what my contribution to the dove hospice has to my own community and this is the ultimate and true reason why I still continue to volunteer.:

Written by Sora Endo, Yr 12, Glendowie College
Speech for Volunteering Auckland's Annual LoVE Awards 2022

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