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The Joy of Being Selfish for Good - Volunteering

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The joy of being selfish for good

“There is a deep, deep value in being good for nothing,” quips Jon Owen, CEO of Wayside Chapel, when talking about volunteers.

Speaking on Helping Hands, Jon says volunteers gift an estimated $1.5 million worth of waged time to Wayside Chapel, and without them, the Chapel would not able to break even. The volunteer workforce at Wayside Chapel cover 250 shifts each week, and ensure their doors stay open.

Jon is joined on the Helping Hands panel by Jenny Blok (Aged Care Chaplain) and Amanda Rose (CEO of Small Business Women Australia) to discuss the value of volunteers, and they talk about the win-win-win cycle that exists for the charities, recipients and the volunteers themselves.

At the coal face of humanitarian work, volunteering is both essential and immensely rewarding, says Jon. Wayside Chapel volunteers lend a helping hand in a wide variety of roles.

“There are volunteers that come in and work on our front desk, volunteers that sit with people and serve them coffees in the café … (others) come in and give of their time and expertise on a voluntary basis as well.”

Amanda explains that workplace volunteer programs have an enormous positive impact on the wellbeing of staff, as businesses who embrace volunteering attract people who have a healthy understanding and connection to their environment, their work and to their colleagues.

“(Volunteering) takes us from being selfish ... to being selfless", says Amanda. "It reconnects us to the realities of what's going on in other areas, other neighbourhoods, other industries ... we need that.  We need that connection to what other people are going though."  She says volunteering builds team morale, helps to reduce staff turnover, and shows that the company is not just about the shareholder and profit.

Jenny adds that volunteering opportunities aren’t restricted by age or ability. In Aged Care, she sees school children visiting the elderly, and both benefit from the time spent together.

“It’s lovely to see volunteers coming into the homes, and I love seeing school children coming in... They’ll sit and play Scrabble or play cards, or something like that ... It brings such joy to our residents.”

“Our oldest volunteer, he was 101. He would get up every day, he put his suit on, his tie, his volunteer badge, and he would go around and make sure he spoke to every person.”

The benefit of volunteering, Jon summarises, is as simple as this;

“Helping others and volunteering, it can be selfish for good. If I said I can give you something that I guarantee will increase the dopamine flowing through your system as well as give you a greater sense of wellbeing that will contribute to your positive mental health, you’d do it, right? … Volunteering gives you all those benefits, and so let’s be selfish and help others!”


See the BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING discussion and the full catalogue of Helping Hands panels at Catch up on full episodes of Helping Hands on 9NOW.

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