What Volunteering Means To Galway

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Ruth Fagan, Volunteering Development Officer with Volunteer Galway

This year Volunteer Galway celebrates its tenth anniversary. I’m very happy to be part of our team here for almost the same length of time. Similar to living here in Galway, I have found that my experience of working in this area has meant that there is always something that will take me by surprise, inspire me and often delight me. And for me, that’s people.

Not being a native Galwegian, the reason I chose to settle here and call Galway my home is because of its vibrancy, its energy, the differences that seem to coexist here, being embraced for the most part with a warm and accepting attitude of its people, whether these differences are met randomly or regularly in our community.

Within my role here in Volunteer Galway to be witness to a diverse range of people moving through transition in their lives and taking up volunteering as a vehicle towards real personal change is something I’m truly grateful for, that I’m often humbled by, and that I don’t ever want to take for granted.

As we approach our tenth birthday, there will be some celebrations for us to mark the event with the sound of a modest fanfare trumpeted and the popping of some balloons that will hopefully be heard amongst those that we have worked with closely, who have supported us, informed us and shaped our service over the years.  

However the smaller individual success stories of people making an active conscious choice to give back in their local communities, while often in the face of adversity, are stories that while so deserving of it, do not echo a fanfare, nor will ever make headline news, but that people living in communities know only too well. And Galway is no stranger to this.

There are many unsung heroes living amongst us. The people who deliver daily meals to the elderly, support children with their homework, actively listen to those in need, dedicate their time every week to help the most vulnerable in their community, ultimately the people that bring their heart with them in the work that they do, that chose to be of service, these are the people that create a vital energy that those living in local communities thrive on and ultimately sustain themselves upon.   

This energy was massively reflected this year in the hard work put in by so many volunteers that secured Galway the 2020 City of Culture bid. A proud day for us all living here and a day that once again reflected this contagious vibrant energy that can be created, as so many people got behind backing the bid.

This was one of the success stories we got to hear about but there are so many more.

In past years volunteering has been perceived by many as “something good to do”, or perhaps something that “only the good people do”.  However I believe the perception of volunteering today is now massively shifting and translating into “the best thing to do” and most definitely “the right thing to do”. And if this is what volunteering can mean for Galway then the future is looking bright.