Those of you who know me well will know I do quite a bit of volunteering. I'm not sure why I started volunteering in the first place, I certainly know that it wasn't through any misplaced desire to enrich my community. That little confession does tend to disappoint many people when they ask why I seem to be such a people-oriented and community-spirited individual :o) Although it didn't start off that way, I think it's become more that way as I've gotten a bit older and wiser.
I started volunteering at ZSL in Feb 2006, alongside my fellow blogger Jo Blogden (http://www.joblogden.blogspot.com/). I was still with a significant ex back then (the reason for that little comment will become clear in a bit), and I think my motivation was just needing something different. I was working in a SHITE admin job and had come back from a month on a monkey sanctuary in South Africa a couple of months previous. I felt I still wanted to do something with the animals...but unfortunately, having finished uni, needed to sustain myself too! That's Bekkie, one of my baby minkies in SA.
When I started volunteering with St John Ambulance I think it was because I wanted to fill my time up and take my mind off stuff....as well as the first aid...obviously. I'd split up with the aforementioned beau at the end of 2006 and had filled my time with getting rat-arsed and seeing mates etc etc etc, but I moved to Streatham in Nov 2007 and after that I didn't have as much money, also, around that time, the ex and I had another brief little thing. I'm not entirely sure what was going on there, I think there was the possibility that we could have gotten back together, but I think it worked out best for both of us that that didn't happen!! After that I was a bit up in the air again and needed something to do, so I joined my local branch of St John on Valentines day 2008! Perfect excuse for not having a bastard date on Valentines Day eh??
Since I joined these 2 esteemed....erm......institutes, the volunteer role has evolved for me a little bit. With ZSL I feel a stong sense of obligation, to the team more than ZSL as I've taken on the role of Team Leader. When people leave it does feel like a small failure on my part, even though I know peoples lives change etc etc. I enojy it when the volunteers are having fun and chatting to visitors etc. With St John I feel like I'm contributing to the community and I do enjoy that feeling..is it a bit narcissistic? I've heard someone describe volunteers as narcissistic before and I guess there's an element of it, but I don't do it to make myself feel like I'm a goody-two-shoes, I do it because I enjoy it. St John is lovely in that respect. When you go out on duty and you DO help someone, you really feel like you've made a bit of a difference and like you've made an achievement. As an aside, Jobie and I were talking about how blogging is really quite a self-indulgent pastime....maybe I'm the most wrapped-up-in-myself person I've ever met....hmmmm
What do I do?
Both volunteering positions are very people-oriented. At the zoo I chat to visitors about the animals, their behaviours, where they come from, who they are etc etc....AND I get to make badges and colour in!! :D Always an added bonus. With St John there's the prospect of getting VERY close and personal with people, why do ya think I go to the Rugby matches?? :o) Here's a pic of me and a mate having fun in the London Zoo Activity Den!
I think I may have also been volunteered to help with an allotment open day just after I move to the stow, that'll be fun, meeting new people, having some old gardeners perve over me....good times...good times!!