Paula Pepper

Paula’s volunteering story

I love volunteering because it gives me the chance to participate in activity that I would not typically have the chance to be involved in. Volunteering is a chance to give back to the community, and I enjoy working with like-minded people to achieve a common goal.

I get to meet a lot of different people from a diverse background, brought together because of a common spirit and wanting to help. Of all of my volunteering experiences, my favourite is my involvement with Relay for Life (Maitland). I find that participating in Relay for Life immersed me in the Survivors and Carers and provides me with greater exposure to the world we sometimes pass over.

Personally, I have suffered loss as a result of cancer, and attending Relay for Life, I found that I could empathise with the stories told by the fellow participants. This is a group of people who have faced many challenges. Their loved one has survived; they have lost someone special or are watching someone close to them suffer. They are at their local Relay for Life event because they have found the courage to come out as a community and want to remind people that this is a battle being fought every day, to help raise awareness and hopefully get people digging deep to raise some funds towards the valuable research that helps fight cancer.

Relay for Life gave me the opportunity to participate with my family and share in the personal growth that Relay for Life offers. And as a proud Mother it is also an opportunity to watch my children interact with everyone else attending and helping make the day a positive experience for all involved.

I would encourage everyone to get involved in volunteering and Relay for Life. We as a general populous think we know about a group or charity. We see the advertisements continually presenting a case and asking us for money. It’s not until we are intimately exposed to the true stories that we realise the truth of the situation. Giving money helps in lots of ways, but being present and offering you own precious time is not only rewarding, but also offers the chance for the individual to grow into a better person. Only by bearing first hand witness can we learn how valuable charities are to our community and how much they really appreciate support when people get involved and lend a hand.

I’ve found that through participating in volunteer and charity work that I’ve gained a greater understanding of the importance of giving and the impact that my time can have on an organisation. Looking back at my life since being involved with volunteering, I can see the personal growth that I’ve achieved and that has been gained by those around me who have also participated. I feel that I have grown more compassionate towards others and I actively look forward to participating in other volunteering opportunities.

I am proud of the support and encouragement I receive from Beyond Bank, it was a strong motivator for my initially to get involved with volunteer work. We have a policy that allowed staff to have 2 days off per year to participate in community activities. It would be great to learn and encourage more workplaces to do the same.

As more people get involved in volunteering and community activities, the favourable “word of mouth” will spread and provide a better understanding to others of the benefits of volunteering and what it means to the organisations that rely on the generosity of our communities.