UCC Works Award - Volunteering and Community Engagement Pathway MOVEMBE2020/2021
UCC Works Award Programme
Volunteering has always been important to me. I started volunteering at a very young age with my local community centre and continue to volunteer there up to this day. Volunteering has helped me to make loads of new friends and learn new skill and to feel part of a community. It was a great help to me when I was taking part in the Bronze Gaisce Award because I was able to continue my volunteer work and earn the award. Coming to NUIG I thought it would be difficult to keep up my volunteer work back home in Limerick because I would only be able to volunteer at the weekends. But boy was I wrong!
ALIVE, NUIG’s student volunteering platform has made it so easy to volunteer and to be recognised for your efforts. I first heard about ALIVE at one of the stand days in the Bailey Allen Hall and I signed up to the mailing list to stay informed with what was happening, later through one of my modules I was partnered with ALIVE. I found out how easy it was to apply for the certificate and after a minimum of 10 hours of volunteering I would have a certificate from the President of NUIG. This certificate rewards you for the volunteer work you’ve done and looks great on a CV. Often in job interviews students find it hard to talk about the volunteering they’ve done because it may not fit into the questions they’ve been asked. This certificate, however allows the employer to see that you have volunteered to a high standard. It shows the employer that you’re not just academically minded, that you’re a well-rounded person.
My volunteer work has mainly been in Limerick at St. Munchin’s Community Centre. I started volunteering there because I realised how much it was benefiting my community and I wanted to be a part of that. I started by helping the manager in her office so I could see what it was like to do that kind of work but also help her tidy and organise the office. I then moved to helping out by running the sweet shop at community bingo every Thursday night. Throughout this time I got the chance to meet with loads of new people and it really got me out of my comfort zone and made me more confident. Now that I’m doing a commerce degree I have been allowed test my new skills in the community centre. Every Saturday I volunteer on the cash register and take note of pricing issues and try figure out other ways to market the community centre. I brought the idea of getting the centre on social media more to the manager and she has allowed me to start up accounts to get the word out.
Because of volunteering I have been given the opportunity to gain experience in marketing and get an ALIVE Certificate. I am also looking forward to using studentvolunteer.ie to find some once off volunteering experiences over the Christmas period and you should too! You might think you don’t have enough time and there’s nothing out there for you to do but you are needed and you gain so much from the experience that it’s well worth it. So get out there! There are loads of opportunities, whether it be with young people, old people, the environment and so much more.
How many times had you volunteered before coming to college? Perhaps you were like me and only did the odd bit around the local community when you had to. Maybe you were the total opposite and couldn’t get enough of it and are now running volunteer organisations. All I know is since I've come to college my outlook on volunteering has changed.
Before I came to college I did what most young adults did and only volunteered when they had to, usually through a TY project. Through one of my Commerce modules I was partnered with ALIVE volunteering in NUIG. ALIVE was set up in the college to help harness, acknowledge and support the contribution that students make by volunteering at home or around campus. What’s great about ALIVE is the ALIVE Cert. This recognises the student’s contribution towards voluntary work and through ALIVE.
Signing up with ALIVE online is easy and finding volunteering opportunities to apply for is even easier! I applied to work with COPE Galway on a bag packing event they were organising in Marks & Spensers here in Galway. I thought that this would be right up my ally as we own a supermarket back home in Mayo, so I’m well used to packing bags! When I arrived to M&S I was welcomed by Marie-Anne who was working for COPE Galway and I was kitted out in my COPE t-shirt and ready to get packing! The event went very well and I received a text last week telling me they raised €2,524.77 and thanking me for all the help I gave them on the day. This text made me think. First of all.. WOW! What a serious amount of money for a serious cause! Secondly, I didn’t think I did all that much. In fact, all I did was turn up, throw on a t-shirt, pack some bags and be nice to the people shopping. That’s it! I always thought of voluntary work being long and boring and of no benefit. But that really did open my eyes up.
Since that event, I have been in talks with COPE again to meet up for another event they hope to be holding in the near future. I've also gotten more involved with events back home like with the TidyTowns or local community centre and Foróige. ALIVE was the springboard to launch me into all these wonderful opportunities and I would recommend everyone go sign up to their mailing list at least to stay in touch with all the volunteering events around the area. You’d never know, you might just find a new passion for something you never even thought about! And remember, a little goes a very, very long way.
StudentVolunteer.ie enables students to have the opportunity to: enrich your personal development and employability skills, have a fun experience, meet new people, and give back to your community. Sign up now.Register Now