I have personally experienced homelessness as have some of my friends. I was homeless with my daughters and it was a really scary experience. I will be forever grateful for all the help I received from a friend and her partner during that time as well as the love and support of friend and family in another state.
Having been in that situation, I have now started on a new path in my life. I am doing a lot of work with the homeless and I can honestly say I have never had so much fun working. I volunteer for a particular organisation and where I work is meant to be one of the scarier places to be. There are a lot of rough sleepers that come in, drug and alcohol issues, mental health issues and you never know from one minute to the next how people will be when you see them.
I have never felt scared, threatened or in danger there. I have had people horrified I am volunteering where I am, doing what I am doing because it is a lot of one on one time, close personal contact, but I genuinely love everyone I have dealt with.
It's volunteer work, so I don't get paid to do what I am doing but I have never felt so fulfilled and the payments I get are worth more than money. I really get cheered up whenever I go there. After working there I am on a high for the rest of the day, and it is not about me feeling good about myself for helping others. It is about the people I am connecting with.
It is about their stories, them sharing their lives, laughing, joking and having fun with me. I love the people there and am so blessed to be able to do a volunteer position that is mainly talking with and listening to people, finding out about them and how we can help.
Some of the life experiences might have scared me a few years ago, but now all I feel is love for everyone I meet.
Some things are worth more than money and if I could I would go where I go to volunteer every day. I would do it full time. As it is I have increased my time there since starting, but I do have to balance it with my other work and projects.
I know doing it has made me a better mother, I am more open, compassionate and listen more. I am genuinely interested to hear everyone's story, see how they are going each week, what they got up to and the exciting things that might have happened as well as their troubles.
This experience has been worth more than anything and I am so grateful I am able to do it. I hope to do more of it in the future and will continue doing this work as long as I can.
What ways do you like to volunteer? Do you have favourite organisations? How do you like to help?