One of the things I love to do in my work and my writing is showcase examples of the volunteering people do. I'm a big believer that people can inspired to volunteer by seeing and hearing about example of people just like them who manage to fit volunteering in to their busy lives.
To that end, this posting is from guest blogger and friend Katriona Bailey. Kat shares her experiences of volunteering and I hope others will be inspired by it.
It is April 2011, I am sitting in my car looking at the building in front of me. I am debating whether to go in or whether to drive home......inside is a man called Graham Main - and he has had the idea to start up a community choir in my home town. I am curious but terrified. My curiosity gets the better of me and I make my way in....there are a total of around 12 people who have shown up to find out more.
Fast forward to July 2013 - Wickerman festival - headlined by Primal Scream - but also playing to a packed tent are Dumfries community choir - all 100 of us. We go down a storm. Hours later, as I bop around to Dexy's Midnight Runners, a man approaches me - "they're good" he says "...but you guys were better".
This would all be an achievement in itself but the choir is now only a small part of what Graham and his colleagues do. It turns out there was a hunger in the town for a creative outlet and Graham has built "Electric Theatre Arts" from nothing and I am proud to say that I am the company secretary, a voluntary role that I LOVE. As a mother of 2 who works full time, I was unsure about taking on this role - where would I find the time? But let me tell you - I do find the time - and I get so much more out than I put in.
My role is varied, sometimes I have lots of things to do, sometimes not so much. Being a board member allows me to pop in and out of the building, to interact with the users of the service and to see the difference it makes in peoples lives. I love being involved and even though I have lived here all my life, I have never felt a strong sense of community here until I got involved.
Electric theatre arts is a non profit community interest company. We run youth theatre groups for kids and young people from 5 - 25, music groups for pre school kids, we have adult Spanish classes, samba classes, you can come in and learn the piano, the drums, the guitar, we will rent you a rehearsal space for your band. And all of this is done at the lowest possible cost to make it accessible for all. We now have a full time employee who is going out into the poorest areas of the town and to outlying regional towns to try and set up creative opporunities for the young people there.
It is a pleasure to be involved. I would recommend anyone to take on such a role if an opportunity presents itself. it will pay you back tenfold.
You can find more information on the organisations mentioned in this blog at www.electrictheatreworkshop.com, www.Dumfriescommunitychoir.com, www.Dumfriesyouththeatre.com.