In the blog series Volunteering is Ace Activity, we publish articles on volunteering by students who study volunteer leadership at the HUMAK Open University of Applied Sciences.
Volunteering is closely related to the idea of doing gratuitous good. On the other hand, volunteering brings not only a happy mind to the doer but also valuable knowledge. The balance of giving and receiving is in the center but what else is volunteering about?
When asking volunteers themselves, the answer is often related to themes of community in one way or another. We have a built-in need to get to experience feelings of togetherness and importance. In ancient times people lived in various communities and tribes where everyone had a role and collaboration was a way to survive. The modern counterpart of a close village community can be, for example, a group of friends. So, we still form tribes among which we can fulfill our roles and feel that we are a part of something important. Could it be, that the way to survive in the past is today one of the keys to a good life?
Almost half of Finns do some kind of volunteer work. Still, one of the greatest challenges of our time is loneliness and marginalization and although many volunteers already respond to these needs with their magnificent work, still, too many sad stories reach our ears. When listening to them the idea that this world should be made a better place comes to mind. Will the welfare of our nation increase if we get more people involved in volunteering? I dare to argue, without a doubt, that this is the case. Perhaps the question is how and where to find that tribe of one´s own? There are countless numbers of people and things in the world that we could do something for. I only have to choose what is important to me.
There is a saying, that when everyone does something, everything will get done. Besides the mentality of tribal people, there is a strong spirit of volunteering in Finland as a result of our wars. Help has been offered and the work has been done together. I just thought that it was a norm at that time, but which in this time of individuality sometimes seems very distant. But no, volunteering happens all the time, changing and growing! It takes new forms, making it easier to participate in different life situations. In Finland and worldwide there are millions of people connected by the desire to do something good. Do you already belong to volunteers, to this tribe of a greater good?
Text: Teija Kylä-Liuhala
The author currently studies volunteer leadership at the HUMAK Open University of Applied Sciences.
Translation: Kati Merikoski