When you work with volunteers, your job cannot be just a job. It becomes a part of your life. Every day I look at people of different ages, different backgrounds, different nationalities, who come to Caritas to share something they possess. They give to others, but some people see it as wasting. I have been looking at volunteers for seven years already and I see that each person who comes and shares something receives much more at the end.
A volunteer is not necessarily a person who has a lot. A volunteer is someone who shares what he or she has: time and maybe even his or her own means and strength. Some volunteers who I have met during these years were socially poorer than the people they helped. But none of them, not even one has gone bankrupt because of volunteering. In return, many of them have received help, support and skills, which made their lives only better.
Volunteers come and go. For some of them it is hard to see the results of their work, but I see it. I see how children who come to us with difficult characters, traumatised by their families and environment, are changed by the influence of volunteers they meet. They feel affection, they feel care and find a reason to become better. A volunteer comes and shares a part of him- or herself with the child, then comes another one and does the same. They think that their input is tiny, but for a child it is life-changing.
I have been a volunteer myself. I participated in summer camps for children as an animator, I distributed clothes to the poor and helped in some other projects. It is not easy. It is hard not to get angry at a person who comes and always asks for more or sometimes even screams at you. But people want comfort, they want love, and hope that someone is able to finally help make their lives better.
This year's Regional Conference is a good chance to stop and look at everything that has been achieved: everything we have given and everything we have received. It is a good chance to help each other, give advices and see our mistakes. After all, even one word, one phrase, something new we receive, hear or understand, can make somebody’s life better.