Have the heart to volunteer!

To those who know that I am at home, it might seem that I am leading an unproductive life. My time is well spent in authoring, blogging, professional developments not in one area but in a few including Microsoft courses and last but not the least in volunteering. While I was advising my son to gain experience via volunteering as a Library Assistant in the libraries, I realised that I was not practising what I preached. So, I browsed for a few minutes on volunteering websites and while going through a list of activities which I could involve in, without leaving the comfort of my home, a crowdsourcing platform developed by the Australian Museum in partnership with the Atlas of Living Australia arrested by attention. Since I am working to secure a footing in the GLAM industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), I chose Digivol and selected a transcribers role associated with Historical documents, which was one of the virtual expeditions I could choose from a list of three comprising Collection labels, Historical documents, and Wildlife spotter.  

What began as a thoughtless gesture, I realised, was not only time consuming but also required a great deal of patience. One could come across words that no matter how long you stare at it or to what size you increase those, you could still be clueless. While transcribing it was significant to remember applying the rules the organisation expects its volunteers to follow. I also learnt through my experience that once one gets accustomed to the handwriting evident in the digitised documents, transcribing becomes easier. Having been given the opportunity to participate in eight different expeditions from 1863 to 1872, I was rewarded with a badge of achievement and even though it was meant to be a selfless contribution to society without expecting anything in return I began to look forward to more badges of achievements. During a search for information about the benefits of volunteering and quotes about volunteering, I came across one that I thought was worth sharing as it added value to what I was doing. “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” – Sherry Anderson

I can vouch for the fact that there are benefits in volunteering. I feel that I have a purpose in life, am less stressed as my mind is focused on accurately deciphering the document and has improved my sleep patterns. According to Marieke Van Willigen’s article titled “Differential Benefits of Volunteering Across the Life Course” in the Journal of Gerontology (Series B, Volume 55, Issue 5, 1 September 2000, Pages S308–S318), though both older adults and young adults experience benefits from volunteering there are differences in certain aspects. Older adults experienced life satisfaction, perceived health benefits and increased levels of commitment whereas younger adults, even though they experienced health benefits, satisfaction while working for one organization than for more than one and experienced other benefits through social integration they do not find it as rewarding as the older adults after having contributed approximately 150 hours of volunteering and hence there is a decline in this field.  

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