I have signed up to be a street fundraiser for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Society during their annual fundraising week taking place next month. I will be sitting outside a supermarket in town with information about breast cancer and a collection tin, and the money raised will be used to fund research, raise awareness and support women suffering from breast cancer.
Hamilton Homeless Trust, the charity I have been volunteering with for the last 6 months, has recently undergone some changes and difficult times as the Chair resigned but then spread some unkind (and untrue) rumours. While it turns out she did not mean them and was just upset at the time, they have been quite damaging to the organisation’s reputation, and all the volunteers have suffered a dip in morale.
To try and explain the situation to the now disillusioned and misinformed supporters, as well as restore the reputation of the Trust and it’s hard-working volunteers, I spent a(n entire) day responding to messages and promoting the charity’s positive work. By the evening I was emotionally exhausted after spending hours defending myself and others who are just trying to help people, but it turns out it was worth it, as since then the influx of accusing and unkind messages has been reduced to a trickle and the positive feedback from our work is rising to its previous levels.
Earlier this month I was offered the (voluntary) position of regional co-ordinator for the Sustainable Business Network, which I accepted.
The Sustainable Business Network is a network that allows businesses and organisations interested in sustainability to share their ideas and experiences, as well as access events and training that will help them reduce their environmental impacts and move towards a more sustainable future.
My role as co-ordinator is to organise events, approach potential new members, communicate with and assist existing members, and generally try an help businesses and the New Zealand economy shift to a more sustainable model of operating.
The soup kitchen I help co-ordinate under the Hamilton Homeless Trust does wonderful work feeding people every night, but I know that many of the people that volunteer on different nights use disposable plates, cutlery and cups. Including polystyrene – argh!
I volunteered and was met with support when I suggested writing a Sustainability Policy and creating an Environmental Action Plan for the charity, so that they can reduce their waste generation and generally become more environmentally-considerate and sustainable.
I was nervous to suggest this as I did not know if it would be something of interest to the charity, but the Trust committee was really enthusiastic about it. I am really excited to do this and love being able to use my professional skills for voluntary work.
I am very excited and will keep this section updated as goals are made, policies are adopted, etc.
It is difficult knowing what to count as new acts and which are now routine acts when it comes to my work with Hamilton Homeless (the charity I started working with ‘many acts ago’). I keep having lots of new responsibilities I did not have before I was involved, but they are also part and parcel of my personal volunteering commitment to them, so knowing what to count is tricky.
I decided to count this as it took me a considerable amount of time -multiple hours- to complete and also has left me without use of one of the rooms in our house for a number of weeks (as it is now a temporary storage facility). So my act is that I collected, sorted through and then helped distribute huge volumes of donated clothes and shoes.
Over the past weeks I have been collecting from various donors bags and bags, and boxes and boxes of clothes that are to be distributed to the patrons at the soup kitchen I run. It is so wonderful that there are so many generous people and it is clear some of them have actively searched through their clothes to find suitable garments when we made an appeal for warm coats, jumpers and socks. There are so many problems and issues in the world that it is easy to get overwhelmed by the negativity, but I have discovered so many people care about others, and show compassion and empathy. There is a lot of kindness and love in the world, really.
For my pro-bono project at work (see post ‘Number 60’), I am working with an 80 year old lady who has taught gardening at schools her whole life and would like to make sure this continues in the future and becomes more widespread.
So far, I have been researching different initiatives and funding opportunities available to schools to help them establish gardens. My plan is to connect her with one of these organisations (Garden To Table), and then help make the initiative more accessible to schools by appealing to government to make grants available that will allow them to access the organisation’s resources. Even though Garden To Table is a not-for-profit there are considerable costs for schools that wish to get involved (as they offer a very comprehensive programme and there are therefore a lot of running costs). My vision is the government grants will help this financial burden be lessened and so more schools can get the resources and support they need to help them build and maintain productive, effective school gardens.
http://www.myhealthyschool.com/gardens/benefits.php – the benefits of school gardens
I work as a sustainability consultant; helping businesses and organsations reduce their environmental and social impacts, and become more sustainable. A few months ago I told my manager I would be keen to do at least one pro-bono project each year and she was very supportive of this. Not only that, but she said she wanted to do the same and now it has become a policy that employees undertake pro-bono work each year.