Passion for Service

We first got to know Ingrid when she volunteered with Community Volunteer Action (CVA) at the Beasley Breakfast program and then at HARRRP Youth Create. When she entered her 4th year, she took on the facilitation role with our Bennetto public school group. Here Marybeth interviews Ingrid as she graduates.

What are some highlights from your experiences in Community Volunteer Action?

I’ve changed as a person, become more open to others, and am less shy as a result of volunteering. I’ve learned that it doesn’t take much to make a change in the world or help the community. It takes very little to influence or shape the lives of children who need the extra support. It just takes time and giving your attention. Simply having conversations can make a difference to them. If you take time with just one kid, it can make a difference to that person. And the influence you have today will affect the future. Helping these kids to become confident in literacy skills can affect their whole future. I’ve learned that it’s important to be passionate about the work that you do.

Ingrid (standing), gathering with her group to reflect on their weekly volunteering in classrooms at Bennetto school.

How do you think we can encourage that passion in volunteers?

By putting people in situations like volunteering with these kids. Through getting to know the kids, you learn to care for them. I’ve grown so much in my empathy while spending time with the children who need my care. The more I volunteer, the more I learn and grow. It’s important to learn to listen, not only with your ears, but to open up your entire body, listening with your heart and mind to understand the underlying message being communicated.

Compared to when you started volunteering with our group at the Breakfast program 2 years ago, this passion seems to have really grown in you. How would you articulate that change?

I was a caring person then, but now I realize how important that caring is. It’s part of my life now. I’ve realized that if you want someone to care for you, you have to care for others as well. I’ve learned to put myself in other people’s shoes. When I work with kids, I know this could be my kid someday and think: would I want my kid to be fed? Would I want them to be listened to?

I’ve also discovered you need to embrace who you are so that you are able to embrace others. Giving kids self-confidence and the belief that they can accomplish their dreams has fueled the passion I have for volunteering, because sometimes all we need is someone to believe in us and say that we can do it.

If I have time to watch a movie, I have time to volunteer

If you had it to do over again, is there anything about your involvement in CVA that you would change?

I wish I had gotten involved sooner. And I would do more to get more people involved.

What would you like to pass along?

I want kids to know not to let others put them down. You will have obstacles and you need to rise above it. Sometimes all you need is a little faith. I didn’t have money to come to school but I still went and finished 4 years of University. If kids don’t have money, it doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for them. I hope the volunteers see how important volunteering is and how their time spent with the children makes an impact on their lives and the lives of the children.

What are you taking with you from this experience?

I’ve changed my perceptions of life, become more positive, and learned to listen to other people’s stories. I’ve learned so much through seeing the situations of others first hand. It’s opened my eyes and now I can no longer ignore the problems – I have to do something about it! My favourite quote is “Be the change you want to see in the world.” When people ask me now why I volunteer, I ask them ‘why not volunteer?’ Why be comfortable in your life when someone’s not able to live theirs. These kids need to be given a chance rather than branded as delinquent. I’ll still volunteer wherever I go next. If I have time to watch a movie, I have time to volunteer. We have to choose how to spend our time and it is worthwhile to spend it helping others who more often than not are ignored.

How will your experience volunteering and facilitating with CVA influence your next steps?

Because of what I’ve seen in volunteering with CVA I want to work in youth justice, petitioning for more attention to be paid to these areas. I want to get more people volunteering and fundraise instead of judging these kids and brushing them aside as though they don’t matter. Otherwise the community I volunteer in is left at the bottom if we don’t involve ourselves in it. I want to influence the life paths of children in the community and tell them that there are people who care.