VOLUNTEERS

“Many will be shocked to find

When the day of judgement nears

That there's a special place in heaven

Set aside for volunteers.”-Author unknown

"A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity." ~The Buddha~

Those who have visited this website know well of my passion for volunteers and volunteerism. For me, volunteerism is the foundation of all functioning societies and lies at the heart of our human inclination to protect and care for one another.

Let me recall a few examples of my postings on volunteerism and volunteers:

In Praise of Volunteerism: If you want to change yourself and the world for better, think of volunteerism --Your Body, Soul, Mind, Health, Happiness and Volunteerism for the Common Good --In Praise of Caring, Volunteerism and Service for the Common Good: The Story of Camila Batmanghelidjh --In Praise of Generosity, Compassion and Kindness: Lessons of London 2012 – and The Story of the GCGI

As I have said many times, there is no exaggeration, when I say my volunteering work, the GCGI, and more, have saved my life, bringing me much happiness and contentment, caring friends and lasting friendship.

Today, I wish to share with you, an excellent example of the benefits of volunteering, service in the interest of the common good.

It is the story of a young man, called John Morris, who is an activist, volunteer and student journalist. He is studying politics at Keele University.

How volunteering saved my life

Volunteering with the Scouts helped me through the most difficult time in my life and gave me the confidence to go to university

“If I had never joined the Scouts I'm near certain I'd be dead. Scouting, and volunteering in general, gave me a reason to keep going during my troublesome teenage years.

Scouts gave me an escape and a family when my mother was imprisoned for benefit fraud and my siblings were scattered by social services. And volunteering helped immensely during sixth form when I ended up living independently.

During my teenage years, there were times when I struggled and there were moments where I lagged behind in education. Scouting showed me that I could have an impact on the world – even if it was just giving kids something to do. Volunteering gave me what I needed to continue.

Within two years of joining, aged 16 and living by myself, I had raised £1,500 to travel to rural Gambia to build accommodation for teachers. I spent a month there sleeping in tents by the village, engulfed by the sights, sounds and smells of Africa. Two months later, I was camping out in -30C Russia, also as a volunteer.

Why do I think that volunteering is such a good thing to do? I believe that volunteering is worthwhile, no matter what your background is.

Jon Robinson, 22, is a medicine student at Keele University – and believes his voluntary work got him his place there. Jon has helped on wards at a local hospital, been publicity officer for both the University of Birmingham and National Nightline Association, and has set up the Keele branch of Mental Wealth.

He says: "I really think that everyone should have a go at voluntary work at some point, especially while you're at uni. Friends of mine who have gone into the real world find it much more difficult."

My volunteering has led to some amazing experiences. Firstly, a few weeks before starting university I was nominated by my Scout group for the Cambridgeshire young people of the year awards.

To my amazement, I won and accepted first place in front of hundreds of VIPs, friends and politicians. I've never done volunteering for rewards but this helped to show that what I was doing was worth it and that it really did make an impact on the world.

Another fantastic experience was when we went to a local town in Gambia. Towards the end of the expedition our group stayed in Kaira Konko, a scout centre in the local town of Soma. One of the leaders decided to abandon me, leaving me with around 80 kids, most of whom spoke limited or no English, to entertain.

Before long, with the help of an older child to translate and some very bad sign language from myself, I had them playing scout games and activities.

I still volunteer now, for the past year I've been part of Team v, a nationwide leadership program run by v-Inspired, and I continue to engage within the societies at my university campus and I am still a Scout.

I'd recommend volunteering to anyone. It not only enhances your CV, something which is becoming more important, but it gives you opportunities and skills that are otherwise inaccessible.

A report by the Scouts states that 91% of volunteers felt that Scouting has helped them develop key skills and a third felt that they had the ability to access opportunities that are either difficult or impossible to obtain otherwise.

Without volunteering I wouldn't be at university, I wouldn't have the confidence I do now, or be writing this article. Ultimately though, without volunteering I doubt I'd be here at all.”

This article was first published in the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2013/nov/07/volunteering-saved-my-life-student

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