WE’RE HITTIN’ THE ROAD!
Ireland is brimming with people who make a minute of the good stuff for others. They’re our volunteers, our helpers - our straight-up do-gooders! So, we thought we’d hit the road to meet them in person and find out more about what they do over a cup of tea and some Dairygold on toast.
And we’re doing it in style (at least we think), in our trusty Roller Toaster: Our lean, green toasting machine. Low torque, minimum drag, maximum spreadability!
Doing Good, Feeling Great
One thing we’ve learned on the road is that there’s more to volunteering than helping others. Doing good makes people feel good. In fact, most volunteers we’ve met tell us they benefit as much as the recipient.
We thought we’d put this to the test. Three individuals, three personal predicaments, three volunteering organisations. Can a few weeks of doing good do them good?
Find out in our 3-part series ‘Doing Good, Feeling Great'.
Volunteers we've met along the way
AudreyAudrey volunteers with Care After Prison, a charity that helps people with prison experience reintegrate back in to society. Audrey got involved with the programme because she wanted to give something back. “It's about reaching out to someone and working together to make things better” says Audrey, who feels she's gained so much from volunteering herself. "It's easy to complain about a stone in your shoe until you turn around and you see a man with no shoes.” Here’s a toast to Audrey. #MakeAMinute
RoisinRoisin started volunteering with the DSPCA when she was recovering from cancer to help take her mind off things and reintroduce her to the working world. ‘The people here were so incredibly kind to me. Obviously, I was doing something right because I’m now a member of staff! It’s the dream job. I spent 27 years working in an architects office and I would never give this up and go back. You get to come to work and have everything from giant snails to horses! The whole environment here, the ambiance, the animals…you could not ask for a better work place’. Thank you Roisin, you have truly reminded us to #MakeAMinute for the good stuff
Ryan & MarinaMeet Ryan and Marina, two volunteers with Jigsaw Dublin City, a support service for young people going through a difficult time. Marina tells us ‘When something is important to you, you’ll always have the time for it. When you’re volunteering you feel really good, you really don’t feel like you’re giving up any time. I never really think of it as volunteering, it’s so enjoyable. It gives me something to be a part of.’ Ryan agrees, ‘You’re helping people and that’s priceless’. It was pretty inspiring to meet two young people who really know how to #MakeAMinute for the good stuff. Check out https://www.jigsaw.ie
ThayaThaya is a volunteer with Seal Rescue Ireland – a sanctuary for orphaned, sick or injured seal pups. ‘It’s super rewarding rehabilitating seals and helping them return to the wild. I recently graduated as a Marine Biologist in Spain, but there are no seals there so I decided to come to Wexford to volunteer with Seal Rescue Ireland. I moved to help the seals and to help my career, but I've learned so much more than that, I’ve learned about myself here’. Thaya, you certainly get our seal of approval (couldn’t help ourselves).
Darragh & DeborahMeet Darragh and Deborah, Both are volunteers with Accessibility Ballinasloe, an initiative set up to develop the area as a more inclusive place for everyone regardless of age or disability. Deborah tells us; "We want to create opportunities where people feel involved. We work with lots of other charities and initiatives to make the community more accessible to all. If you want change to happen, it’s usually through volunteers. “I get so much more out of volunteering than I give. At the end of the day, seeing people’s self-esteem grow is worth any pay check.” Darragh and Deborah, you’ve truly inspired us to #MakeAMinute for the good stuff.
DorothyMeet Dorothy. She’s just one of a dedicated group of volunteers at Knitted Knockers, who are working wonders with wool; making free, handmade breast prosthetics for women who have undergone mascetomies. As well as the rewarding side of helping ‘Knocker’ recipients with their self-esteem, Dorothy loves the social side and described all her fellow volunteers as friends. As she puts it, “there’s never no time for volunteering. Think of the amount of time you spend sitting and watching TV - that could be time spent helping someone else." It was a privilege to meet and share tea and toast with Dorothy, Ann and the other wonderful volunteers, who are picking up their needles to #MakeAMinute for the good stuff.
CiaraThe Dublin Youth Orchestra has over 400 players, supported by a huge team of volunteers ‘in the wings’. We spoke to Ciara, a volunteer of over seven years and now Chair of the Board, to what she and the other volunteers get out of it. First and foremost, “it’s the level of camraderie and friendships made out of it”. And when it comes to the players? “It’s remarkably rewarding to see them come in nervous, but then you work with them, and they start playing together and realise what they can achieve as a group”. Finally, for Ciara, “it’s also important for the kids to see what you can get out of giving something back for nothing.” A sentiment that’s music to our ears. It was great to meet and share tea and toast with the group, who are all on song when it comes time to #MakeAMinute for the good stuff.
AnnMeet Ann, A volunteer with Special Olympics Ireland for almost 30 years. The organisation is first and foremost a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, but it provides athletes with far more than physical benefits, it’s about fun, friendships and a feeling of belonging. Ann got involved with the charity because her second child had special needs. ‘As a volunteer and as a mother, it’s a place where you can come and talk about your problems. If I’ve a problem with my child someone here will understand it or might even have a worse problem themselves. It’s a support network that I gain so much from. I get a great sense of satisfaction out of volunteering here. Special Olympics Ireland gives people the opportunity to show the extent of their ability. It shows how much these athletes can do’. Thanks for taking a minute to talk to us Ann and for making a minute for the good stuff
AntoinetteMeet Antoinette, A volunteer with Age Action since 2014. Antoinette used to work in London for an Irish charity set up for people who emigrated there from the 1930’s onwards. Antoinette tells us ‘It was the first time I’d worked with elderly people and I really enjoyed the experience. I was moving back to Ireland, I hadn’t lived there for a number of years, so I was thinking, how would I get back in to the community? I Googled ‘working with the elderly in Ireland’, and Age Action came up. I met a girl named Sarah who worked there and we clicked, I started volunteering straight away! I know I could give money to charity, but I’d rather give my time. It’d like to think that that is more valuable.’ We’d like to think so too Antoinette. Well done on making a minute for others.
KirstenMeet Kirsten, a volunteer for the last 3 years with Liquid Therapy, an award winning foundation based in Bundoran that provides a supported environment that enables people to experience the benefit of surf, play and water therapy. Kirsten tells us ‘Volunteering gives you a reason to get up in the morning and get excited about life! The kids give you a new lease of life. You don’t think about anything else when you’re with them. Helping kids that have a lot of difficulties and wouldn’t normally get to experience the joy of being in the water is just amazing. It’s great to see that parents so content too. Some have told me that they have never seen their kids so happy.’ Kirsten rounds off our lovely chat by telling us ‘ I think it’s really good to give back to other people. You get a lot out of volunteering yourself. It gives a good sense of community and everybody benefits from it’. Thanks for making a minute for the good stuff Kirsten
AndrewMeet Andrew, He’s been volunteering in The Blue Box Creative Learning Centre for almost 5 yeas. The centre works with schools and families in Limerick to help support children through difficult times in a safe space with trained Creative Arts Therapists. “Volunteering here benefits me in many ways. I get to be part of a team and work with a variety of different therapists - music, dance, drama, psychotherapists. It’s amazing to meet such a broad spectrum of people. Doing something for somebody else also benefits me because I feel volunteering here has value. It’s something I put great stock in. I think the work that Blue Box does is so important. It’s one of a kind in Ireland. It’s also something that can be really fun! An opportunity to play music and make art with the children. There’s a strong sense of community around Blue Box Creative in Limerick, and that feels good.” Thanks for chatting to us Andrew, amazing work!
CarmelShe’s been volunteering with Bray Cardiac First Responders for over three years. The organisation is made up of a group of volunteers who work in partnership with the National Ambulance Service. These volunteers are on hand to provide an early response in giving primary lifesaving support to people who have called 999/112 and requested an ambulance. Carmel tells us ‘I’ve lived in Bray all my life and giving something back in a way that helps families here makes me feel good. I’ve volunteered in a few places over the years and you see the same faces pop up again and again, the serial volunteers! When you volunteer, it really creates a strong sense of community, it feels great.”. Thanks for making a minute for good stuff Carmel!
Meet Our Host, Henry McKean
It’s been a jam-packed few weeks on the Dairygold Roller Toaster. So many volunteers, so many ways to have a cup of tea.
The more we travel, the more we see just what an impact volunteers make on this country. We’ve met athletes, musicians, surfers, doctors, vets, therapists - you name it, there are people doing it for the good of it. And every single one of these volunteers sing the same tune: Doing good makes them feel good.
Just ask our test subjects Mekale, Sue, Chris and Charlie. They embarked on a new challenge to volunteer, and they all had different things they wanted out of it. Whether it was to meet new people, strengthen relationships or find purpose in retirement, they all found volunteering to be remarkably fulfilling.
I’m pleased to say I’ve found our little Dairygold Roller Toaster adventure very fulfilling as well. It’s been an honour to be part of it and to get to meet so many people who truly make a minute for the good stuff.
Thanks for hitting the road with us.