This year's National Volunteering Week is highlighting the importance of 'small'. A charitable gesture doesn't have to be monumental to make a difference in someone's life. To quote Oscar Wilde, 'The smallest act of kindness, is worth more than the grandest intention.'
We hear from Cork Volunteer Centre who want to show their appreciation for the help and commitment they've received through gestures, big and small and spur others on to jump on the bandwagon and do something for others.
National Volunteering Week is about giving to other people but also about making a change to your life too. Research from Volunteer Ireland demonstrates that volunteering is good for your physical and mental wellbeing.
We spoke with the manager of Cork Volunteer Centre, Julie Connelly on volunteering and their upcoming awards ceremony in light of National Volunteering Week.
Cork Volunteer Centre have 701 registered non-profit groups with them as of today, "we're the match-makers and middle-men," Julie said. Cork Volunteer Centre is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and is staffed by a dedicated team of employees and volunteers. "When someone enters the building, the first person they meet is one of our dedicated team of reception volunteers. We feel that the best way to first learn about the benefits of volunteering is from someone engaged in this process themselves," said Julie.
Cork Volunteer Centre was set up to support and promote volunteering in the community of Cork City and Cork County and Julie has seen just that. In light of COVID19 many services were put on hold, but some were able to adapt, "people set up support groups over zoom, some fed the homeless night regardless of COVID, some made masks, and so much more...It makes you proud to work where you work," she continued.
According to Julie, volunteering does more than help others, it helps the volunteers themselves, "Volunteering is so important for inclusion. It’s a way to meet people, it's good for your mental health, it introduces new people into a community, it's good for your physical health, and it's a great way to try new things too."
She continued, "It's about doing something for your community, for the wider environment."
"Thank you so much and please keep doing what you're doing," was Julie's response to what she'd like to say to all the volunteers around Cork. "If you're considering becoming a volunteer give it a go, try it out," she continued.
Cork Volunteer Centre has exciting programmes coming up, this includes an opportunity for people to take part on a short-term volunteering basis around events and festivals and for people to "pitch in where there's a gap." Cork Community Volunteers programme give potential volunteers an opportunity to dip their toe in the volunteering pool.
"It's about thanking the unsung heroes," Julie said.
The volunteer awards aim to celebrate and recognise the thousands of remarkable people across Cork who selflessly give their time and talent to benefit their local communities, "A lot of [volunteer work] has been completely unrecognised and completely under the radar," continued Julie.
With eleven categories and one overall winner of the Cork Volunteer Awards, Julie says the criteria for a winner is "really open." It's not solely based on how long someone has volunteered for "it's also based on the impact they’ve had and if they've done something innovative or smart to really benefit their charity."
To find out more about Criticall Cork, visit www.corkvolunteer.ie/criticall
For more information on the awards categories and to shine a light on Cork’s Volunteers by nominating someone for Cork Volunteer Awards 2021 click here.
Or for more information on National Volunteer Week click here.