Why Volunteer with Us? - Jinyao

During the last few years, I ever spoke to many pre-volunteers (or people aspiring to volunteer but not yet volunteering) and I derived similar sentiments from them. The concern that one could not commit, usually time, was the major stumbling block to them taking the first step. That was important to consider, as no aspiring volunteers would like to quit halfway. I was glad I overcome that, back then.

I was a NIE trainee then (yes, training to be a teacher) and my key concern was my ability to juggle my time (not at that very moment) when I would be posted to school. I am a Chinese Language teacher in a secondary school, and Chinese Language teachers mark essays and secondary students write long essays. I guessed I do not need to elaborate on the demands of a teacher since this has been much discussed over the years, but I was very concerned then before I commit to volunteering. I was also very concerned what kind of impact I would make on the intellectually disabled, considering that I have very minimal experience working with them. And if the commitment level is not there, would I be making more disruptions and destructions instead? How silly it would have been, if I had daunted and stayed in my comfort zone, thinking about the laundry list of all the “I”, “me” and “myself”.

It has been a great five and a half years into my volunteering experience at RO today! Frankly speaking, there was little need for that concern, especially at RO. Our members (how we called our beneficiaries) are such big-hearted and welcoming, such that every little action matters so much and receive so much appreciation. They are easily entertained, and they are such a happy lot. We matter to them, and they they constantly remind us about that through their actions. So much so, that you receive so much energy rejuvenation from serving them, that you leave RO every session feeling elated! This process of energy re-charging and the amount of energy regained would just entice you to back every session, naturally! Sometimes, I do wonder if the volunteers benefitted more in the process. 

 There were definitely times that I found myself stranded by time. Mounting projects from schools, events on Saturdays, extra urgent marking over weekends, long school trips, family commitment, weddings, my marriage… haha, I’d shall spare you the numerous examples I can list. Urgent private affairs? That’s cool. Go ahead and take a short break from volunteering. Just be back again, after that break! We even have volunteers who went for a year of exchange programme (university student) and an overseas student who would only be back to serve on her school vacations till her graduation! RO allows that, because we have a strong team of regular volunteers (from young to younger ones!). When a few gets tied down, we have others to cover and keep the project going. Comrades look out for one another – we are a great team!

On another note, if you have never volunteered for the intellectually disabled, or have zero experience working with them, RO is a great place to start too. Our members are marginally intellectually disabled, and they are highly interactive. I still remember that I had difficulty differentiating our members from volunteers at face value on my first few sessions. We just learn along volunteering. And if we feel empowered after a while, we can always assume new roles within the project or explore further in the bigger intellectually disabled community to search for the best fit of volunteering. 

There are too many things that we have done, and we can further do for our beneficiaries. We need new perspectives, new hands, new ideas to continue the spirit. You could be that volunteer that we need. This would only be known, if you take that first step to come to RO. And if you do, we’d keep you coming!