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The Volunteer Who Never Was: Good Intentions and Epic Procrastination

Hello, fellow procrastinators and aspiring do-gooders! Today I’m going to tell you a tale of epic intentions, grand plans, guilty secrets and the twin enemies of procrastination and excuses.

Every year around the time tinsel goes up in shop windows, I consider volunteering at a Soup Kitchen serving Christmas Dinner to those in need. Every year, I imagine myself as Mother Teresa, spreading joy and goodwill like confetti. And every year, I am still stuffing my face with prawns and bobbing around in my swimming pool.

My journey to volunteering greatness never quite left the runway. It’s like the plane was stuck at the gate, with the captain (me) announcing yet another delay over the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are currently delayed due to a sudden bout of procrastination. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

My first excuse was that it was difficult to find a local charity or community service that serves meals.  These never appear randomly on my social media feeds! I used variations of the “it’s hard to organise” excuse for a couple of years.

I’ve also travelled over the Christmas period so my noble intentions could be justifiably demoted on my “To Do” list. Interestingly on one of these trips, I was the grateful recipient of Christmas Dinner with strangers. When the guilt nipped too persistently at my conscience, I made up and donated family food hampers.

My guilty secret is that I’ve never actually volunteered at a Soup Kitchen and I have given precious little of my time to charity organisations. Rather than repeatedly battling with feelings of guilt, I invited myself to reconsider the intent of volunteering rather than the actual service or activity.  

For me, volunteering is about using your resources, whatever they are (skills, time, money), to help make people’s lives better.  My skill and passion is in education and business (I do make a sensational Pumpkin Soup too!), so it makes sense that contributions I make using this skillset have leverage. Our whole Blueprint staff are encouraged to attend volunteering events as paid work activities. We (and I personally) regularly donate to several of the many wonderful charities around, and sponsor community activities. We are advocates of volunteering as a way we can all make a meaningful difference in our communities.

Now, to be clear, I genuinely wanted to volunteer in the Christmas Soup Kitchen. My trusty sidekicks—procrastination and excuses saved me from actually getting off my butt.  Fortunately, I was able to direct my own resistence to simply doing something else of benefit to others.  And it’s beneficial to even more than those I would touch with a soup ladle.

Here’s the thing, making lives better may involve paid work, formal volunteering or simply supporting those around you on a personal and practical level.  Perhaps you could help an elderly neighbour mow the lawn, give away some of the herbs you grow to friends or participate in local clean up days?

In the end, it’s not about being the perfect volunteer on any set day. It’s about making an effort when you notice that help is needed and realizing that small contributions can lead to big changes. 
Interested in learning more on becoming a “ray of light” as a volunteer? Check out our CHC24015 Certificate II in Active Volunteering.  You’ll even be able to practice in our immersive learning environment “Greenthumbs”.

For those who want to look for volunteering opportunities, you can also check out some of these sites:
National Volunteer Week 2024 Australia: ‘Something for Everyone’ - The Common Good
ADRA Community Care Centre - Logan Central - ADRA