“The best time to give back is now.”
As the year draws to a close, December is when a lot of people usually feel the most celebratory and generous at the same time. For volunteers around the world, the 5th of December is very special as it is recognized by the United Nations as the International Volunteer Day: “a unique chance for volunteers and organizations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work among their communities”.
For iVolunteer Philippines, celebrating the International Volunteer Day and giving back to the community was much more meaningful, as it spent its last official volunteer day in 2016 for its staff with a partner NGO caring for the elderly home, Tahanang Balik-Alay in Taytay, Rizal on December 3, 2016.
The iVolunteer staff spent a delightful afternoon with about 20 lolos and lolas in the care home. The elderly, caregivers, and volunteers shared some light snacks and bonded over Zumba dancing, karaoke, and parlor games. A group of friends who makes volunteering and doing outreach their bonding activity, also scheduled their visit on the same day, and agreed to a joint program and gift-giving with iVolunteer. This sharing of efforts and true spirit of volunteerism made this day more significant for everyone.
In order to make the experience of volunteering worthwhile, fully immersing oneself by engaging with the people in the community where one is joining a volunteer activity is important. In an elderly home like Tahanang Balik-Alay, the lolas and lolas are longing for visitors who would spend time conversing and sharing stories with them, or simply caring enough to ask about how they are doing. They would always love to share stories about themselves and the people they love–people who they don’t get time to spend with anymore or not as much as they used to before they were taken in by the place they now call home.
It is definitely heartwarming and inspiring to experience and witness how a group of friends, “us”, the volunteers, and “them”, the elderly in the care home, were able to easily warm up and to cheerfully converse, laugh, dance, sing, and share a part of ourselves and the gift of quality time.
Before we ended the delightful afternoon together, iVolunteer Philippines joyfully presented its gift as Christmas elves to Tahanang Balik-Alay. iVolunteer granted their simple wish this Christmas through its Operation Christmas Elf campaign for its NGO partners. Their wish, a washing machine that they can use for their laundry needs, was granted through pledges from the iVolunteer staff. The activity also ended with a quick game where each volunteer answered a quiz and presented their elderly partner with individual gifts.
The time to give back is always an opportunity and a choice that one can make, no matter the season and circumstance. Tahanang Balik-Alay welcomes volunteers who would like to visit or share their blessings, and is in special need of doctor volunteers. For more information on how to volunteer for Tahanang Balik-Alay or to know about other volunteer opportunities, please check our website at ivolunteer.com.ph, follow our FB and Instagram pages, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Miko Jazmine Mojica