Inside Scoop

Volunteering to make a difference

December 5 is International Volunteer Day, a United Nations-led observed day which has been going since 1985.

The main focus of International Volunteer Day is not only to celebrate all forms of volunteering, but also to highlight the contribution that people are making locally, nationally and globally. And New Zealand has the highest rate of volunteering in the OECD, with Kiwis spending an average 13 minutes a day volunteering – compared to the global average of just 4 minutes a day. [Source: http://www.volunteeringnz.org.nz/international-volunteer-day/]

At Fidelity Life, we recognise the importance of getting staff involved in contributing to the community – not to mention the personal and professional development opportunities volunteering can bring.

Last year an Employer Supported Volunteering Policy was introduced at the company, which provides all of our teams with one day of paid special leave to take part in volunteering activities during work hours. And this recently encouraged two different groups of staff to get out and make a difference.

Our Auckland I.T. team split into two groups to do half day shifts each at the Auckland City Mission New Beginnings shop and Trade Me pick-up shop in Grafton.

Applications Delivery Manager, Jan Maruska, said the team definitely had their eyes opened to the work that volunteers do.

"While the work itself wasn't hard, it certainly left us all with a new appreciation for the work volunteers do, and for the people that they help. Some of us also woke up the next day appreciating that some muscles not needed for sitting in the I.T. department all day had been rediscovered!

"What an absolutely rewarding experience the day was for the team - and it certainly provided that clarity of "perspective" to us all. I think we all generally associated the Auckland City Mission with the Hobson Street kitchen, food banks and food parcels, and didn't realise that their reach is so much vaster. It's humbling to think how many Aucklanders have benefited from the skill, dedication and unconditional commitment of the Auckland City Mission organisation, and the workers, helpers and volunteers who simply do a fantastic and often thankless job."

Not long after I.T. shared their experience, a member of the Christchurch office was so inspired by their efforts that she decided to organise her own volunteering day at Ronald McDonald House.

Michele Doig, who's a member of the Sales team, enjoyed her time volunteering so much that she's already looking forward to next year:

"After ringing Ronald McDonald House and offering my help, I turned up prepared to be cleaning and helping out doing whatever was needed. This facility is funded generously by the public, businesses and volunteers... and the volunteers are the backbone of this organisation.

"Time absolutely does not stop in this house. People talked of their own experiences, listened to others, and offered their support and guidance. It truly was a humbling experience to see and feel, and contribute a very small amount of my time to help others. 

"As I left the house totally drained, tired and ready to hug my own kids and crawl into bed, I thought I will never forget this day, and how lucky I am to have had healthy young children. However, more importantly I so wish more people took the time to recognise others and how a small amount of our time can go a long way to helping others that are truly in need."

If you’re interested in finding out more about what volunteering opportunities there are in New Zealand, visit http://www.volunteeringnz.org.nz/ for more information.


Photo: Michele from our Christchurch office (R) with staff from Ronald McDonald House