Presumably it would not be incorrect to claim that all of us have done something voluntarily at least once during our lives. Who would not have voluntarily mown grass, weeded the garden, washed the dishes or done a homework assignment on behalf of our siblings? These duties are performed voluntarily inside the family, and usually they not defined as voluntary activities, but regarded as giving one’s contribution to family gatherings, goals and undertakings, which are important for the family.
A broader variety of voluntary activities takes place at kindergartens and schools, where volunteers are frequently involved in the scope of helping to organize an event, to collect ideas of others, to paint pictures for a competition or to play an instrument on a concert. Such voluntary activities are more related to affiliation to the community and social responsibilities. The youngsters feel that they want to contribute to school activities because they have something to give and to share with the school and fellow students, and to receive something in return.
But this is not the limitation of voluntary activities, because volunteer projects also take place on the level of different counties, the state and the whole world. Many organizations and enterprises look for volunteers who would help out with smaller and simpler tasks and would thereby give their contribution to development of something big and noble. There are numerous voluntary activities and programs organized across Estonia (for example, tree planting and cleaning campaigns of Let’s do it), and people are encouraged to sign up as voluntary rescuers, assistant police officers, or leaders of girl guides and boy scouts. But undoubtedly, even cleaning the neighbourhood park from autumn leaves is a voluntary activity and certainly valued by your fellow citizens.
There are also various global voluntary programs which give us a chance of giving our contribution to creating a better world and improving the status of general education. Some examples include projects of Humana, European Voluntary Service, which is focused on youth, GLEN network, and Let’s do it world, which had its outset in Estonia, and spread all over the world!
Voluntary involvement is appreciated and valued; it is cherished by parents, schools, enterprises and government. Even Töötukassa emphasizes the importance of voluntary activities and offers the jobseekers the opportunity to work as a volunteer. There are several portals and Internet environments (for example, Vabatahtlike Värav, Vabatahtlike Infotahvel, provincial centres for development, Toidupank, and Heateo Sihtasutus) which enable to get an overview of the help needed and to sign up as a volunteer.
Public contribution, experiences obtained while working as a volunteer, social coherence and charity are increasingly popular topics. Some might ask why they should spend their time and energy voluntarily on something that does not give them any monetary remuneration. The answer is well known to everyone who has given their voluntary contribution to something. It’s a fact that voluntary activities enrich heart and soul with pride and joy, and volunteering offers experiences and knowledge that may not be obtained from paid work.
Voluntary activities reward with a golden cup everyone who gets involved. However, this gold is slightly different from what we envision, as it is much more valuable. The award of voluntary activities comprises of good emotions, social contribution and taking pride in the invested efforts.