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Volunteering gives a boost to wellbeing

'You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.' - Winston Churchill

Helping others is one of the things that brings out the best in us and makes us happy. We all feel good when we feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Belonging and a sense of purpose bring a powerful sense of wellbeing.

Ireland has an incredible tradition of volunteerism that has been exported all around the world. I did aid work for 15 years - and the Irish Missionaries and charities like Concern, Goal and Trocaire have all done amazing work and are all highly regarded on the ground where they work around the world.

The GAA have (last time I heard) an incredible network of 650,000 volunteers. They are 'the life and soul of every GAA Club'. All over the world, they do everything from coaching, to washing jerseys, to managing pitches and fundraising among other things.

It was amazing to feel the energy in the room of the Volunteer Expo in Wexford on Tuesday January 28 in the Talbot Hotel. Over 40 volunteer organisations participated in the event organized by Rotary Wexford

There was incredible enthusiasm in the room with 100s of people signing up to support all sorts of amazing organizations offering opportunities to volunteer-including Wexford Marine Watch, It's Good to Talk, Barnardo's, The Lions Club, The Soroptimists and so many more.

Helping others puts your own life and problems in context in a very powerful way. It was humbling to hear Fr. Peter McVerry share how he has gotten more from working with the homeless than he has ever given. Struck by that, I spoke with a number of people I know that do volunteer work over the last week and all shared the same sentiments. One lady regularly goes into prisons and she shared a very touching account of what she has received through her volunteer work in prisons and working with people in addiction.

In my own case, I learned that when you see the worst in life - you mostly see the very best in people. Working in Swaziland, a country where life expectancy dropped from 60 to 45 years between 1997 and 2007 (because of HIV and AIDS) for 4 months in 2008 enabled me to meet the most extraordinary people volunteering and doing good for their friends and neighbours in the most difficult of circumstance. I saw people triumphing in the most challenging of situations.

It was also heartening to see so many employers in the room looking for activities their companies could get involved with - both in terms of giving staff time and other resources including financial support to the various good works around Wexford.

It gave a boost to my own wellbeing - to just be in the room.

If you are looking for more wellbeing, meaning, purpose or connection in your life why not get involved in something you believe in? There are so many groups to inspire - from SVP to groups that work with the Arts like the Wexford Opera house, to animal charities like the Seal Rescue-to the Carers Association and those working with victims of sexual abuse. The National Heritage Park and the Order of Malta also showcased their amazing work.

Whether you are in Wexford or any part of Ireland, there are many worthy local organisations to get involved with - both for individuals and employers with different opportunities to suit different interests, schedules and talents.

'The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.' - Oscar Wilde

Calodagh McCumiskey designs and delivers bespoke wellbeing at work programmes to grow people and companies. She also offers regular meditation classes, personal development workshops and wellbeing consultations to help people thrive. Ph 053 9140655 | email | Visit

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