DestiNASYON: Finding One’s Advocacy and Volunteering In Time of Crisis

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Every volunteer has a story to tell and iVolunteer Philippines have shared some of these wonderful narratives in many different ways over the years. This time, we are highlighting the journey of some of our volunteer staff as part of the build up to our first ever DestiNASYON: Finding Your Advocacy virtual volunteer talk during the upcoming International Volunteer Day on December 5!

Read on to catch a glimpse of how our staff was able to find the means and the time to channel their professional or personal background into their respective roles, and of course, talk about what volunteering has meant for them over the course of their journey.

Volunteering gives you balance

As a full-time State Auditor, Jasmine “Jas” Salem is often asked how she manages to do volunteer work despite a busy schedule. A quick answer to that, perhaps, lies in her propensity in using her professional expertise when contributing to iVolunteer and other NGOs that she supports.

Like many volunteers, Jas began found her calling during a simple volunteer event, which led to her crossing paths with iVolunteer and becoming part of the family soon after. That journey began more than five years ago when a friend invited her to like iVolunteer’s Facebook page. She then joined her first volunteer opportunity during Brigada Eskwela and met Bel Padlan (Co-Founder, iVolunteer) who later invited her to become a part of iVolunteer where she currently holds the position of Finance Director.

“It’s important to volunteer because it gives us balance. I can’t compare myself with other people na nagfofocus lang talaga sa work… and I think hindi ko kaya yung ganun na… as in, work lang. So, I feel that I need iVolunteer or volunteerism to balance my life or keep me sane lalo sa panahon ngayon na parang walang line between your personal [sic] and work kasi nga puro virtual na at minsan on call ka, kahit anong oras puwede ka nilang tawagan sa office. Kase nasa work from home ka naman so feeling ko kelangan natin ng panglihis sa mga ganung bagay — and also it gives us purpose.”

Jasmine Salem

Her team plays a crucial role in the organization’s internal affairs as they handle finances and expenses, as well as take the lead in disbursing donations to our partner NGOs via projects like Treasure Volunteer and “iVoluntree for Christmas” [https://www.ivolunteer.com.ph/treasure-volunteer]. Yet, Jas’ duty in iVolunteer is more than just a reflection of what she does outside of it, as she’s also been able to contribute in other ways as one of the leaders and core member of the team.

Balancing volunteer work and professional life

iVolunteer is made up of people with diverse backgrounds. There are students, full-time corporate employees, and freelancers. Being a volunteer doesn’t always mean you have a lot of spare time. In fact, it is given that there might be instances where your volunteer work will overlap with your full-time job.

“I feel grateful sa iVolunteer kase nga di ko talaga makita yung life ko if hindi ko nakilala yung iVolunteer. Ibang-iba daw ako magsalita even yung mga people in my life before iVolunteer, nakita nila kung paano ako binago nung pagvovolunteer ko. Mas naging sensitive ako, mas hindi lang sarili yung nakikita, medyo nababalance mo kung ano yung nararamdaman ng ibang tao. Hindi agad ako nag-jujump sa emotions. I learned na hindi lang ikaw ang titingnan mo… titingnan mo din kung ano yung pinagdadaanan ng ibang tao, kase yun din yung pinakita ng pagvovolunteer sa akin. Madaming mga realizations kapag nagvovolunteer ka na puwede mo talagang gamitin in your personal life”

Jasmine Salem

According to Jasmine, in times when outside work and volunteer work overlap, she would talk to her boss about it and explain what iVolunteer does; which is something that she says her colleagues have come to understand and appreciate as well.

She also shared that being with the organization had helped her gain more confidence as she’s now able to speak more comfortably in front of the public and voice out her feedback and opinions when needed.

Give your profession more meaning

Karen Izza Rochelle Fernandez, a CPA working as financial analyst, started volunteering with Project Pearls as a Volunteer Tutor last year where she taught Math to Grade 2 students.

“Nagsesearch ako kung saan ko puwedeng i-apply yung profession ko, tapos nakita ko yung iVolunteer naghahanap ng for finance nila. Then sabi ko, sige, para may purpose naman tong ano ko, hindi ang pagpapayaman lang ng ibang tao ang profession ko.”

Karen Fernandez

She started as a Donor Relations Officer with iVolunteer in February this year and is now working on data processing for Treasure Volunteer. She came across iVolunteer when she decided to search for an opportunity to apply her profession to volunteer work.

Finding joy in volunteering

One of Karen’s most memorable volunteer experiences so far was her first visit to Project Pearls in Tondo, Manila. The circumstances didn’t quite go as expected because of the rain and flood in the area but all that faded into the background as it failed to stop her from doing what she came out to do as a volunteer. Aside from that, Karen also feels glad that she was able to meet new friends in her journey o far and that through her stories, was able to inspire her other friends to volunteer.

“It opened up my eyes na parang andami palang kindhearted people. Nakakagaan lang sa feeling na may mga ganoong kinds of people na wala silang makukuha pabalik pero nagbibigay sila.”

Karen Fernandez

Volunteering, she adds, also helps her discover that she does have a knack for teaching kids and in the process, be more open to people unlike before when she would just be completely hesitant with any stranger.

“Parang it opened up my eyes actually dun sa real world talaga. Kase ako, from the province ako tapos parang okay naman yung buhay tapos parang nakita ko na ay ganito pala ng mabuhay ang ibang tao. Parang andami pala nilang kulang tapos ako minsan parang sumosobra kaya why not like yung sobra, yung portion nun, ibalik din sa iba na mas nangangailangan.

I think either way, kahit very small part lang is intertwined yung lives ng lahat. So parang yung volunteering, you help a person in a very, very small way lang, malaki na yung impact niya.”

 Be a blessing by volunteering

Coming from a corporate background, Emalyn Joyce Llagas is at present, the Channel and Events Manager of iVolunteer. Outside of the organization, she works as a Research and Development Manager in an FMCG Company under the food category handling process and packaging development.

“I never chose to be part of iVolunteer, it was my destiny to be part of iVolunteer.”

Ema Llagas

Ema joined the organization in February this year where she is now leading a team together with content moderators and channel handlers to relaunch iVolunteer’s Youtube channel.

Her first project with iVolunteer was with the Social Innovation Challenge 2020 team where she contributed in establishing a different set of mechanics and format for this year’s SIC, which happened 100% virtually this time around. Ema is also one of the project heads for the iVoluntree ensuring to track the volunteers engaged, people who are donating, and to deliver the VGifts for the donors. Meanwhile, her new and ongoing project is the relaunching of the iVolunteer Youtube Channel where her team is working on a series of a content line-up that will freshen up our Youtube channel here.

“At the start of the year gusto ko magvolunteer but actually in my mind, I’ll join an NGO na may certain advocacy,” Ema shares on how she came to find iVolunteer. “Parang something regular na I’ll be doing but I never expected na I’ll join a volunteer organization na what we’re promoting is volunteerism… na we enable people to volunteer and feeling ko nagkataon lang talaga na I saw iVolunteer. There was an opening and I was able to join so I feel na hindi sya why I choose iVolunteer but it’s more of why I chose to stay in iVolunteer because naniniwala ako doon sa mission ni iVolunteer and its importance na lahat tayo may magagawa in our own little way. And that starts with volunteerism.”

“Maganda sa role ko, it’s something different from what I’m doing at work kasi my line of work right now is very technical. But in iVolunteer, ang work ko, as part of Volunteer Engagement and Branding (VEB), it’s more on the creative side and also events management. I feel it’s my strength and I missed doing it. But yung creative side, yung coming up with content editing videos, it’s really far from what I’m doing at work, so for me, breath of fresh air siya na different from what I usually do every day.”

In closing, Ema had also shared what volunteering means for her right now, especially during this time of crisis: “I think what I realize is that more than ever, now with the pandemic and were on an ever-changing world, right now is the time for us to be kind and to be grateful for what we have. And where volunteerism comes in there is that we have to realize that each one of us is blessed with something. It may be, you know, hindi naman kelangan pera but with talent, with time and were all blessed in different ways and volunteering is a way for us to share those blessings so that we help other people and also, we help our society. Personally, lately, I’m seeing yung importance nya in a way na lahat naman talaga tayo may magagawa. Hindi naman porket mayaman ka ikaw lang yung makakapagbigay ng tulong. Volunteerism is a way for us to share our blessing and for each one of us to contribute to the society.”

Get your own volunteer journey started

We hope you enjoyed learning about the journey of some of our beloved staff! If these stories inspire you to start or enhance your own volunteer journey, simply visit http://www.ivolunteer.com.ph explore more possibilities on how you can volunteer and make an impact!

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