|The Volunteer Power! session held on the evening of 22 May reinforced the idea that individuals possess immense potential to effect social change. And all it takes is a worthy cause and the drive to make it happen.|
It starts simply – just identify a need. As the co-founder for Project Hello Stranger Tham Yining shared, her wish is simply to “make Singapore a happier place”, and an act of kindness is all that is needed. During their sharing, the audience was treated to a video montage documenting wide smiles and the enthusiastic response they received from fellow Singaporeans. And all they did was initiate a series of campaigns held along the streets of Singapore – “Honk If You’re Happy” and “High-5s”. These campaigns show that ‘a little can go a long way’.
Beyond a singular action, mobilising others to join your cause can be difficult. The session provided the participants with tips on how to make volunteerism more appealing to others. According to Susan Ellis, one thing should be established first - Volunteerism should be viewed as “an exchange”, both the giver and recipient should gain something that they each value. Volunteering should be fun and rewarding for all.
Continuing in the same thread, Susan challenged the audience made up of active volunteers and potential volunteers with this question: “What do you think are the biggest obstacles to taking action as a volunteer?” Group discussions amongst the audience brought up the recurring issues of “time constraints”, “other commitments”, a “lack of support”, difficulty in matching the volunteers to the task and a lack of awareness about the ways to go about volunteering.
And with that, Susan shared a guide to developing an action plan. The plan included highlighting issues that needed consideration such as having a realistic goal, deciding on whether to collaborate or work independently, as well as assessing how much time, money and resorces needed to be allocated. Susan ended her list of steps to action with a pat on the audiences' hinds - "Take your first action and keep moving!"
Having been informed on how to harness “volunteer power!” for themselves, many of the participants who attended the session went away feeling invigorated to commit their time and energies to volunteerism.
As aptly shared by a fellow participant, and citing Susan Ellis' buzz sentence - "Volunteering is a privilege." A privilege it is indeed.