Vandaeh Works

The Power Of Love and Happiness In Volunteering Article

I did my first summer volunteering project giving a "pocket of time" to support 8 to 13 year old young people from London in 2011. It was another of those experiences where I went in with my blindfold on without deep consideration, simply being Heart led and feeling it was the right thing for me to do! The experience was so very fulfilling and rewarding, and gifted me another level of free education, that I have continued to offer my time every year since.

I currently volunteer for a charity called "Free To Be" which was founded by Rachel Nichols and Mike Gee in 2015, and who I have worked with since my first volunteering summer of 2011 and am inspired to continue to support, as they are so very dedicated to help guide these young people through opportunity in their formative years.

It's a really expansive time for everyone involved as although we are bound by the rules and regulations required to run this sort of organisation, we all play our part with open hearts and minds, and use our common sense and intuition to safeguard those in our care, and also contribute to being able to give them a wonderful memorable experience. I surprise myself by driving a minibus around inner city London to collect and deliver the young people from their homes, and wherever we go on our activities. In any project there are also co-ordinators to plan the week and ensure all the arrangements run smoothly, domestics to prepare all the food required and keep the site ticking over well, and group leaders. We all play equal parts to the success of the projects and our investment of time with these young people.

This summer we had the opportunity to give over 100 young people a holiday. The volunteers come from many different backgrounds and most start as students from University who can gift some of their time. These young people are much closer in age and match the energy levels of the youngsters on the projects, and often give the young people huge inspiration and new aspirations too. Having given my time since 2011 I have seen a lot of these young people come back as working people and dedicate some of their holiday time to the projects. These days some companies pay for their employees to volunteer for charity work too. There are often mature people from different walks of life who are inspired to put something back into society, and others who gain experience of working with young people for different reasons to fulfil their purpose. When the young people are over 13 and too "old" to come on the project, if they show interest we take them on a "Young Leaders" project and they have the opportunity to learn and grow into this new role of responsibility. This year one of these young ladies who I have known since she was 8, and is now 15, told me that she was going to take over "Free To Be" and then the world!! Who knows what her future holds, with such loving intention I'm sure she will help many in our world today. We all work together as a TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves Miracles) and come together as an instant family of friendship.

I have gained so much satisfaction, fulfilment and reward, and heightened awareness of where the young people are today in our fast changing society. I am truly blessed to be able to share my energy levels and skills as a Holistic Therapist, in sharing my smile and my art of listening and finding positive solutions to any passing issues. On one occasion during the first year I was there it was past midnight and a group of young lads around 12 years old were still bouncing off the walls and keeping everyone awake, and exhausting their group leader volunteers. I suggested I go into the room to help and began to quietly talk to each of them and suggest it was time for sleep as we had a busy day tomorrow. Within minutes they had all fallen asleep, so my reputation was set as the "Child Whisperer"! These days I openly work with hand reflexology and share the benefits of wafting a little bit of lavender oil around the room at bedtime. So much so I was at a canoeing activity on the last day of this years project, and I was surprised to see another minibus arrive as I was waiting for my own group to get changed. I realised there was a parallel camping project happening so I ran down to great them and the young people who I had worked with previously all jumped out of the bus and gave me huge hugs and were so very excited to see me and tell me that they had taught their own helpers how to do the hand reflexology and it worked!! I was so very moved and my heart was touched by their happiness and sharing.

We openly use the words "Love and Happiness" on the project now. In seeding and growing this intention it really makes a difference and everyone responds to the inclusive caring community that we create. There are SO many individual and entertaining stories from beautiful memories, and we have a book of all the amusing words that are shared between the young people and the helpers, which remind us of all the wonderful golden time bubble memories we have created together over the years.

After the conclusion of this years summer project all the volunteers were sent a thank you email and a photograph from the top of Cissbury Ring taken at sunset with a hand heart, which says it all. Also one of my fellow bus drivers who is in the habit of being an early riser, created an art masterpiece of our wonderful summer 2018 time bubble in full glorious technicolour. He daily added more to the picture which he shared with us too and I have included both of these images to gift you a smile.

If you would like to know more about this particular charity have a look at their website: The organisation is based in London and there are are many volunteering opportunities depending on how much time and availability you have to share and gift.

I have also supported other charities closer to my own home including working with the Salvation Army with their youth club, for the homeless and on Christmas day, and also supporting other local young people with positive inspiration and ideas. Years ago I even drove a transit van to Croatia for a charity which really pushed me out of my comfort zone!! I find these opportunities very energising and work on the basis that everyday in every way I give until I think I've given enough, then give a bit more. Working with the power of "Love and Happiness" in your Heart is such an amazing fuel for mind, body and spirit. I find it completely energising as a key to help me thrive in life, as whatever we give with love always returns to us in unlimited ways. Your gifts guide you to your purpose, so look for your signposts, follow your star and share your unique gifts with LOVE**

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