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Volunteers of the month May, 2018 who personify ‘Service before Self’

Some people inspire you by way of just being themselves. They radiate passion, purpose and presence in whatever they do. And when these values are combined with years of wisdom and the drive to give back to society, it makes an inspiring senior citizen volunteer!

We have the fortune to have two such accomplished seniors as our volunteers for the month of May, 2018. As friends who walked into our orientation meeting together two years ago, they made a profound impression on us on day one. They continue to humble us with their commitment and leave an indelible stamp of on each volunteering session. They both have served their careers in the Indian armed forces and now choose to serve our community with the same passion and zest.

Colonel Rajakumar and Group Captain Veeraraghavan are retired officials from the Indian armed forces and they have chosen CV as their preferred route to make a difference. They have been volunteering through CV at Seva Samajam and a few other NGO partners for the past two years. Two years during which they have been completely dedicated to the children at the school there and are determined to transform their lives.

Colonel Rajakumar is a retired army officer, 76 years young and he always is the spirit of our meetings. With his commanding voice and sprightly gait, he encourages the children to express themselves and speak up. He believes that everything good can be further improved and leads some very interesting discussions.

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Group Captain Veeraraghavan is a retired airforce officer, 74 years young and he teaches at a couple of other schools for less privileged children as well and we are fortunate to have him volunteer through us as well. He has devised his own teaching aids for other schools and is always willing to share his ideas with us. They are the first to arrive for a session and pretty much the last to leave.

Apart from teaching Spoken English and reading sessions, they enjoy teaching values, awareness sessions, basic tutoring, and are always completely engaged with every aspect of our engagement at this school. They have also tried some other volunteering activities and are always trying to think of how they can help further more. Not surprisingly, they rarely miss a class and it is a treat to see them engage with the young kids. It’s like having foster grandfathers with young hearts. They symbolise everything we would wish for in retired elders.

As people who have enjoyed life fully and are now experiencing a more meaningful way to engage, they bring with them the rich resources that volunteers need – experience, knowledge, patience and most importantly, time.

Chennai Volunteers considers itself fortunate to have them as part of our family and we look forward to many more volunteering moments with them.

Our two celebrated volunteers of the month have served their life living the adage, “service before self” and continue to do so, even now, with the same commitment and passion, for the same cause, their country.

IMG_20170808_111817 Continue reading “Volunteers of the month May, 2018 who personify ‘Service before Self’”

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Meet our volunteer for the new year, Jan 2018.. Ganesh.

The best things in life cannot be seen or touched.. they must be felt from the heart.

This is what made a shy and reticent young man become a believer in volunteerism. He felt and sensed his way through volunteering, initially testing waters, before he took the deep dive!

Ganesh is a young professional who chanced upon CV and decided to give it a shot. His first shot at volunteering was at a home for elders where he signed up to entertain them and somehow took charge of the show. He was applauded for his efforts and this appreciation, alongwith his own sense of fulfilment that he could spread cheer among needy elders, transformed him into a believer.

Today, one year since and counting, Ganesh has been a key volunteer at most of our volunteer events. He balances his work pressures and volunteering commitments with the same calm, quiet and balanced demeanour, as he does everything else in life. A quiet worker, Ganesh is extremely focused, and comes alive when he is with the beneficiaries. From environment-related causes to managing marathons, from scribing for the visually challenged to encouraging specially-abled children on their sports day, from managing the  registrations at a blood donation camp to spending days at the flood relief camp, Ganesh has done it all in his quiet manner. He personifies “putting the cause before self” and volunteers from his head and heart. It’s almost as if he is experiencing and trying out various aspects of volunteering to see how much he can push himself beyond his comfort zone. Well, all I can say is that he is doing well and going strong,

He also believes strongly that volunteering has transformed him and CV has given him a sense of belonging.  He is almost part of the CV team, is always ready to raise his hand and  has made several friends among volunteers. But more than this, the impact he sees in the eyes of the people he engages with, keeps him going and it’s a passion he has discovered.

In his own words. “The happiness and fulfilment you get when you help someone is something you must experience at least once in your life time and i feel elated to be a part of CV!”

Team CV is equally proud of having him as part of our team and we really look at him for support in the future as well. It is people like Ganesh that keep an civic initiative booming.

Thank you, Ganesh and here’s to many more fulfilling moments together.

 

Chennai Volunteers’ NGO Fair 2017

“Making volunteering meaningful for NGOs.” This is the thought that led Chennai Volunteers to host a unique programme for NGOs across Chennai as well as potential volunteers to connect and engage with each other.

It was a day that celebrated NGOs and the causes they represented through volunteers from all walks of life, which included individuals, corporates, active seniors, social clubs and professionals. It was a marketplace that gave NGOs the opportunity to present their cause, exchange expertise, network, raise awareness and engage volunteers.

This NGO Fair, hosted as part of the sixth anniversary of Chennai Volunteers, saw active participation of over 60 NGOs and 15 schools for underprivileged students. Most of the NGOs were partners of Chennai Volunteers and had experienced volunteer engagement for the last few years. The event kick-started with walk-throughs of all the NGO stalls, where NGOs explained how volunteers could help and commit their time towards supporting worthy causes.

The causes represented at the event were education and literacy, women, differently-abled, visually-challenged, environment, community service and development, children and youth, senior citizens, art and culture, health and medicine and animal welfare. Positivity, camaraderie and compassion reigned supreme as NGOs told volunteers how they could help and commit their time for worthy causes.

Mr. Rajeev Mecheri, trustee- Mecheri Foundation, and Mentor – Chennai Volunteers, emphasised the need to integrate volunteering into one’s busy life and how India needed volunteers for various missions at all levels.

Mrs. Shyamala Ashok, Executive Director of United Way Chennai and a friend of most of the NGOs present spoke on how the NGOs needed volunteers more than sponsorship these days. She reiterated the importance of nurturing and sustaining volunteers as an NGO and said “CV is one platform where structured volunteering can take place. This fair showed the valued acceptance of CV as a volunteer base for Chennai.”

The event also had an interactive and informative panel discussion on “How volunteering can be made more meaningful for NGOs”, which was moderated by Harish Vittal, a corporate volunteer. The panelists included Arun Krishnamurthy of Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), Aruna Subramanium, trustee of Bhoomika Trust and Mahesh Memorial Trust; and Sankara Mahalingam, founder of Dreams Alive and a corporate volunteer himself.

The panelists reiterated that NGOs had to identify volunteering opportunities and work on how volunteers should be developed over time. It was a lively conversation that threw up many ideas and points of view that will determine the way forward for such events. It is also mitigated the myth about volunteering being just recreational and fluff!

In the words of Ms. Aruna Subramanium, “The NGO fair laid a solid and firm foundation for structured interaction between the volunteers and NGO’s and this is going to be mutually beneficial and productive.”

According to Mr. Iyyappan Subramanium, founder Sri Arunodayam Trust, “ This is the first of its kind event to have direct interaction with so many like-minded individuals on a single platform. We had worthy dialogue with the volunteers and are stunned to see how people from all walks of life want to give back to society.”

As Mr. Harish Vittal was on target when he said, ” Know the do’s and don’ts – Volunteering is not a favour but a duty. A person who is volunteering for the first time should be clear about the impact he or she wants to make. He/ she has to understand and prepare adequately for the volunteering that he/she is taking up. Also, there are certain dos and don’ts they have to be aware of. As a volunteer you have to know what is inappropriate. If you are brash in your attitude, it is sure to irritate many people. In such a case, the person is not helping the cause but working against it”

Ms. Jayasree, Director, Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu added, “ CV through this NGO fair has managed to hit the “sweet spot” both for the people who give and for the people who need the support. The NGO fair curated and gathered individuals, corporates and NGO’s to give appropriately to those NGO’s who need the support. This was a step in the right direction and events such as this needs to be regularised. It was a melting pot of inspiring people, genuine causes and committed volunteers with various skill sets.”

And Mr. Arun Krishnamurthy summed it up very well when he said,“social groups need to streamline their efforts and a collaborative approach will serve the common cause better. The NGO fair was the much needed catalyst in bringing all of us together.”

(Chennai Volunteers is a social initiative that fosters volunteerism in our city. For more details, log onto http://www.chennaivolunteers.org or message CV at 9840182299)

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