Volunteering is a Long-term Commitment and It’s Worth It
Volunteering with CareNights was a new experience for me. Encountering these kids from different backgrounds was eye-opening. Some of them took some time to warm up to us, but when we finally gained their trust it was rewarding. Now they welcome us at the centre with warm smiles, and we share a favourite activity of watching movies together, as despite our age gap, it is something in common for us to enjoy.
More than clocking community service hours
I first learned about the CareNights programme through a school email. I had some Community Involvement Programme (CIP) hours to fulfil (now Values in Action – VIA Programme), so I went for the Volunteer Briefing at one of the CareNights centres. After learning more about how the programme helped children from low-income families, I felt inspired to contribute, and signed up to volunteer with a friend.
I soon realised that volunteering with these kids was so much more than fulfilling CIP hours. I began to understand why some of these kids behaved the way they did because of their family backgrounds, and learned to empathise with them.
Volunteering is about real, deep connections
I remember one girl who took some time to open up to me. She was quiet and shy around us. I knew her grandma took care of her because her parents were often away from home. During one art and craft session, she showed me a drawing of her family. I think it might have been unintentional, but her drawing revealed another side of her I hadn’t known.
She had drawn three families in different houses. One was her uncle’s family in a nice house, another was her aunt’s family also in a nice house, but when it came to her own family, she had drawn her mother and her partner in a messy house fractured by lines. It was then that I realised how she felt about her family situation. My heart went out to her.
I felt I got to connect with her on a deeper level that day.
Volunteer Carrie conducting an emotion regulation workshop with the CareNights kids
And a sense of compassionate responsibility
Even after I’ve already cleared my CIP hours and am about to graduate, I feel that now that I’ve grown comfortable with the kids, I want to stay on and volunteer with CareNights. I’m not volunteering out of a requirement anymore; I’m volunteering because I feel a sense of responsibility for these kids, whom I’ve spent many months with and really bonded with.
All in all, volunteering with a friend has also made it more enjoyable and helps encourage me whenever I feel a little tired out. Volunteering is more than “just a short-term thing”. I used to think that volunteering just once in a while was enough, but I’ve come to realise that it’s a long-term commitment that can positively impact the lives of the kids.
Check out our Facebook page to see how students have been putting their Values in Action (VIA) through fun educational sessions with the Student Care kids
Want to give back to the community? Learn more about how you can volunteer to make a difference in the lives of families in need