A passion for helping others

A passion for helping others

Volunteering is a great way to help people and gain valuable work experience. This Student Volunteer Week, Commerce student Ryan Hooper-Smith explains to myView how he balances study, life, and volunteering in the community.

Ryan Hooper-Smith is a commerce student and passionate student volunteer.

Young people are exposed to a huge amount of news, information, and current events. We’re always just a click away from an update about local, national, or international news events that could affect our day-to-day lives.

It’s scary when you look at it like that, but in addition to the doom and gloom, we also see heart-warming stories of people’s personal struggles and their desire for a better, more loving world. These stories make you feel a bit warm and fuzzy, and often I think the increased exposure to these types of stories helps our generation to be more empathetic. Wanting to access that empathy and share it is exactly what led me to volunteering.

To those who might be nervous—don’t be afraid to jump in!

Volunteering is not only an amazing opportunity to meet and learn about people from different walks of life, but it also lets you take a step back from everything else going on around you. If I feel swamped by the tidal wave of assignments, I know I need to find something refreshing to disconnect. Volunteering is such a wholesome activity and provides you with exactly that.

It can be as simple as spending time helping at the local school with homework or supporting a cause close to your heart by delivering some pamphlets on a sunny day. The small things that we don’t realise are ‘volunteering’ are often the actions that make a big impact on people’s lives.

Ryan knows the benefits of planning ahead on any project: multi-coloured post-its are a must!

A lot of the volunteering work that I‘ve done is in the realm of governance and mental health. Governance is one of my passions, and while often it can be hard trying to juggle studying, working, and volunteering, I know that the work I’m doing within Volunteering New Zealand and the wider sector is important and helps to pave the way for other young people. Finding a balance by volunteering for a cause you love is genuinely the best way to remove the stress from adding more onto your plate—doing something that you care about makes it feel less like a serious task.

As students, we’re all leading busy lives. But when we think about the impact volunteering has, and the difference all of us can make to a small but important group of people, it all feels worth it. You shouldn’t be afraid to jump in and do any type of volunteering, even if it is just for a few hours here and there!

Ryan, (forth from left) with one of the teams he volunteers with, helping Wellington Central MP and Deputy Prime Minster Grant Robertson on a rainy day.

Volunteering is a big part of our everyday lives

For everyone at Te Herenga Waka, volunteering will not only expand your job prospects, but open yourself up to new possibilities where the learnings you take away are different to those in a lecture or classroom. They’re lessons on life, lessons on the world, and lessons from people who are outside your normal social sphere.

It’s so important that all of us, young and old, integrate volunteering into our daily lives. It helps us learn about who we are, what we really care about, and where our future could take us.

Volunteering is the foundation of our nation. It’s such a vital part of all New Zealanders—and I’m sure it’ll stay that way for years to come.

Ryan Hooper-Smith is a second-year student studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Economics and Public Policy. He also holds a position on the Volunteering New Zealand Board.

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