As nice and virtuous as it sounds, volunteering may seem time-consuming, challenging, and even intimidating to someone who has never tried it. But while it does require some responsibility, motivation and time, I found a wonderful aspect of volunteering: it teaches me to accept other outlooks, characteristics, and views of the world.
It broadens my horizons and arouses in me an interest in others, while breaking down my prejudices. As a volunteer at the Center of Coping with Crisis, I witness how my clients’ burdens gradually lift as they find answers and discover ways to move forward. Over time, I have also noticed that the skills I’ve acquired through volunteering are useful both in my personal life and in my work at Danske Bank’s Human Resources Department, where I collaborate with a diverse crowd. I can say with certainty that volunteering has helped my personal and professional development as well as the people I counsel.
My Work at the Center of Coping with Crisis
I’ve worked as a volunteer at the Center of Coping with Crisis for almost two years. The Center is a place where everyone is welcome, without any additional sign-ups or doctor referrals. People come here for help with crises or with psychological challenges or issues they want to discuss with a counselor. The Center employs professional psychologists working as volunteers, so the clients receive professional help at a greatly reduced price, making counseling available to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
As for myself, I am part of the Danske Bank HR team and this is a job I very much enjoy, but I was always drawn to clinical psychology, which was my field of study. This brought me to the Center of Coping with Crisis, where I volunteer as a counselor in my free time. I also have an internal obligation to contribute to the wellbeing and harmony of society and to broaden its knowledge of psychology. I feel that this kind of volunteering is the best way for me to make such contributions.
Nurturing Emotional Intelligence
My volunteer work fascinates me because of the delicate, close, and honest relationships that I develop with the people who come for counseling. They tell me how they feel, and entrust me with their most sensitive experiences, secrets and challenges. This comes with a huge responsibility, but also provokes great curiosity in me. To me, everyone I meet is unique and memorable – every person appears to live in his or her own world that, at the same time, exists in our common world. The first visit often leads to further counseling sessions and, as time passes, I observe how the pressure eases and people change as they begin to know themselves better and accept who they are. This makes my work truly meaningful, and I’m so grateful to be part of the process.
I firmly believe that volunteering enriches the volunteers themselves and helps them to see the world differently. Enrichment may come as new skills or a different – broader and more mature – perspective. Organizations can surely benefit from such broad-minded employees, who are both knowledgeable and emotionally intelligent. I’m happy that Danske Bank allows these enthusiastic and good-hearted people to spend more time volunteering: it is a great opportunity for our employees to grow and then use this experience in daily tasks and meetings with colleagues and clients.
3 Days for Volunteering
When I applied for my job at Danske Bank, I was pleasantly surprised by the three days of annual leave allocated to volunteering. These volunteering opportunities are very important – last year 72 percent of volunteers from Danske Bank claimed that it made them even prouder of belonging to the organization.
I use two of these days for volunteer work of my choosing, and the ability to do so is very useful, as I’m occasionally on standby duty or consulting clients during working hours; the third day, called a Time to Give day, is spent with all of the colleagues from Danske Bank’s Lithuanian HR Department.
Time to Give is an opportunity Danske Bank employees to spend one day a year volunteering, and they may decide to do this alone or in a team. Last year, all of us visited a Lithuanian school to educate senior year students by telling them about the job market, career opportunities, and skills and knowledge they may need to pursue their dream career. We also talked about coping with stress, as this could be useful for their exams, and help them to lead a healthy young life.
Out of the 800 Danske Bank employees who took part in Time to Give, as many as 81 percent said that it helped them develop stronger bonds with their colleagues. My experience of joint volunteering has been the same – the day is so much fun because we help others and also foster our relationships as we spend time together outside our usual work environment.
Can I Work, Volunteer, and Have Free Time?
Before I began to volunteer, my biggest concern was whether I’d be able to work and volunteer while also making time for quality leisure. Now I can safely say that it is actually possible!
Volunteer work, especially if done properly, takes time. But once you realize that it is time well spent, it becomes possible to schedule every activity and make time for anything. I believe that everyone should try volunteering to see life from a new perspective, and to experience new things – to start, simply look for a field that you love, find interesting and think is important.