Embracing the Journey of Volunteerism: Dave’s Story of Impact and Transformation

9:59 PM

Back in April, I was in Manila for a concert. Despite alI the excitement, I was feeling apprehensive and emotionally unstable the night before the concert as I didn't have the ticket with me yet. And on that same night, I received a message from Dave, an iVolunteer Philippines volunteer. 

I had no idea what iVolunteer was and even though it was already late, I accepted the meeting request. Dave contacted the Davao Bloggers Society through me to participate in iVolunteer's GoVolunteer Expo. As President of the organization, I felt obligated to participate in that call.

When I returned to Davao, I was feeling happy not just because I just attended one of the best concerts in my life, but also because Dave’s words lifted my spirits and I became enthusiastic about the possibility of being part of iVolunteer.

I started preparing for my role as a panel speaker at the Go Volunteer Expo 2023 right away. I spoke about the blogging community in Davao, our organization's humble beginnings, and my personal journey as a blogger. And in the expo’s bustling atmosphere, I looked into the audience and took a moment to ponder. I was honestly impressed by the passionate individuals all around me, excitedly helping one another. 

GoVolunteer Expo's Social Innovation Challenge 2023 Launch

One of the most memorable experiences for me was meeting Ms. Marites Lugtu of Lupus Awareness. She was grateful to the Davao Bloggers Society for introducing her to iVolunteer in Davao where she found an opportunity to actively contribute and raise awareness for her Lupus cause. It made me realize that our organization has the potential to positively impact others and serve as a tool for those in need.

This experience struck a chord with me and I felt driven to learn more about iVolunteer.

Dave with the members of Davao Bloggers Society

I am glad I had that brief conversation with Dave despite all the rollercoaster of emotions I felt that night in Manila because it turned out to be more than just a simple event invitation. It became the starting point for a promising community support collaboration with iVolunteer. I was lucky to be able to discuss and explore ways to contribute through our platforms as the Davao Bloggers Society. Furthermore, this encounter allowed me to meet Dave, the man behind iVolunteer Mindanao, which strengthened my commitment to the organization and its wonderful objective.

In this interview, we discussed Dave's inspirational path as a dedicated volunteer with iVolunteer — organization that promotes positive change via volunteers. 

Dave's Journey: A Quest for Mentorship

It all started when Dave was looking for a mentor. Dave was already involved in volunteer work with SLIDAR (Sign Language Interpreters of Davao Region) and other groups, even when he was still in Mati, Davao Oriental. At one point, many people began to rely on him for volunteer work, and while he continued to give his time and teach others, he began to feel empty. Among other things, he wondered if what he was doing was still right and if the approach by which he was educating others was up to date.

During his search for a mentor to guide him, Dave came across iVolunteer. Since he didn't know anyone from iVolunteer, he decided to look them up online. To his surprise, he found their website and decided to inquire. At that time, they were in need of a researcher, and that's how Dave began his journey with iVolunteer. The possibility of extending iVolunteer to Mindanao also became a motivating factor for him.

Navigating Challenges: The Fluidity of Commitment

The most challenging part of Dave's entire volunteer adventure, particularly with iVolunteer, was when people did not follow through on their pledges or volunteer to work as promised. For him it can be disheartening to feel abandoned, especially when you've put in a lot of effort and it's not reciprocated in the same way by others. And because volunteer work is not a formal employment, he cannot hold others to the same standard of accountability. 

It is also frustrating when someone appears to be totally committed one day but not the next. As a volunteer, Dave is aware that everyone has limitations and that he cannot expect the same amount of effort from others. This ambiguity in commitment can be difficult to negotiate and manage in a volunteer context. Nonetheless, Dave acknowledges the contributions of those who remain loyal and supportive throughout the journey.

Setting Standard on Others

When Dave was starting, he had that kind of mindset to set standards for others when they committed to something, even in volunteer work, because he was very idealistic. However, as he's grown as a person and as a volunteer, he's come to realize that not everyone will perceive things the same way he does. He's learned that it's not fair to expect everyone to adhere to the same ideals he holds.

Dave now makes an effort not to base his expectations of others on his personal biases. Instead, he observes their acts and dedication when they volunteer, and his expectations are formed by their actions and dedication. He recognizes that each person has their own point of view, limitations, and motivations, and he respects their devotion based on what they can provide in their own unique way. It's a more tolerant and understanding approach to volunteering and teamwork.

The Impact of Empowering Others: A PWD as a Volunteer

The most significant interaction Dave had with someone he helped through iVolunteer was when he encouraged a person with a disability (PWD) to volunteer. For the longest time, the perspective regarding persons with disabilities has been that they are always the recipients of volunteer work or activities. As a teacher by profession, Dave wanted to empower them with the belief that having a disability doesn't mean they can only be on the receiving end of volunteer activities. They, too, can be leaders and volunteers for change, offering valuable contributions to the community.

Balancing Personal Commitments: The Lifestyle of a Volunteer

Volunteering has become a lifestyle for Dave, and he believes the same is true for many people in iVolunteer, especially those who mentored him. It's amusing to say that their hands feel itchy if they can't engage in volunteer work or activities. However, one of the sacrifices Dave has made when it comes to volunteering is giving up some of his personal time. Despite this, the personal fulfillment, appreciation he gains, work experience, skills, and the rewards from forming connections and linkages compensate for it. It all depends on how he perceives things, and for Dave, the benefits of volunteering far outweigh the sacrifices.

Overcoming Doubts: Recognizing Small Contributions

Dave has encountered many doubts about the impact of his volunteer work; in fact, there have been numerous instances. Volunteerism, in the first place, is the most difficult to measure in terms of impact because as normal people, they often expect instant gratification from their actions. However, when it comes to volunteering, especially with causes that have been persisting for a long time, it's unrealistic to expect immediate results. It's only natural to feel doubtful at times.

For example, when advocating for PWD rights or fighting for inclusion, it can be disheartening to see that some people still don't understand or support the cause. Doubts can creep in, wondering if their efforts are making a difference.

But what helped Dave overcome those doubts is learning to appreciate the little things. When he volunteers, he sees new faces stepping up to help, and it gives him hope to witness others getting involved in volunteering too. The fact that there are still people who genuinely want to help and make a positive change energizes him. He's come to realize that even small contributions and moments of progress matter. The impact of volunteering may not always be immediately visible, but it is the collective efforts and the continuous dedication of individuals that ultimately create a meaningful impact over time.

Memorable Initiatives: The GoVolunteer Expo in Davao

In Dave's journey with iVolunteer, one initiative that stands out for him is when we met and the people who joined the GoVolunteer Expo in Davao. Even until now, he can't believe that what they did has had such a significant impact on others, and the impact is still continuing. Everyone is still actively engaged in volunteer work with others. It's amazing to see that even volunteers who found them online and volunteered for the first time during that event continue to be dedicated volunteers. Some of them even became internal staff members of iVolunteer, officially joining the organization.

Dave considers this as the biggest return on investment (ROI) because, despite starting small, these volunteers have remained committed to volunteering. Many of them had no prior volunteer background, but now they actively encourage others to become volunteers too, all because of their experience at the GoVolunteer Expo.

Another reason why the event is particularly special to Dave is that it was the first of its kind in Mindanao. Most of the NGOs and organizations involved were new, starting groups with a strong desire to make a positive change in society. Witnessing the enthusiasm and passion of these individuals and organizations was truly inspiring and left a lasting impact on Dave.

Influencing Personal Values and Beliefs

In Dave's current role as a volunteer and his position, he has moved into a level where his main task is to influence others to volunteer. As a result, people now see him as a mentor, which adds a new layer of pressure. He realizes that even the smallest actions he takes can have an impact on how others behave, and this influence can be both positive and negative.

This elevated position has changed Dave's perspective and beliefs, making him more sensitive towards various problems and situations. He has come to recognize opportunities for volunteerism in areas he may not have noticed before. As he becomes more deeply involved and expands his scope as a volunteer, he has been exposed to new learning experiences and technical skills that he never expected to gain.

Furthermore, this journey has also taught Dave about himself. He has encountered people with opposing beliefs, and through these encounters, he has observed how he handles such situations. It has been a journey of self-discovery, where he's learned to navigate different perspectives and maintain a sense of openness and understanding.

As Dave continues on this path of greater involvement in volunteering, he recognizes that it's not just about making a difference in the community, but it's also about personal growth and development. The discovery journey has been both challenging and rewarding, shaping him into a more empathetic, adaptable, and effective advocate for volunteerism.

Support and Misconceptions: Family's Unwavering Backing

Dave is very fortunate, and he believes volunteerism runs in their blood. On his father's side, although most of them are not in Davao and are involved in politics, they are more focused on community development. On his mother's side, they are very active in the church, with some being pastors. Growing up, he was oriented to believe in the value of giving back — if you have 10 and you give 6 to others, the remaining 4 is enough for you. This mindset has shaped his approach to volunteering.

Dave is grateful for the unwavering support of his family. Whenever they talk about support, they never question his intentions or the things he does for iVolunteer. Their understanding and encouragement have been invaluable.

However, he cannot deny that he has also received feedback from others who think differently. Some assume that when he appears at big events, it's because of iVolunteer, and they believe he suddenly earns a lot. In reality, everything he does is voluntary, and he often spends his own resources to attend these events. Unfortunately, some people don't understand the true nature of volunteer work and the personal investment it requires.

Despite these misconceptions, Dave remains committed to iVolunteer and the impact it creates. It's not about financial gain; it's about making a difference in the community and finding personal fulfillment in helping others. With the support of his family and his passion for volunteerism, he will continue to contribute to positive change through iVolunteer.

The Aspirations: Expanding iVolunteer's Reach in Mindanao

On a personal level, Dave's relationship with iVolunteer brings him happiness and fulfillment. He is content with the position he currently holds and the satisfaction he derives from being a volunteer. However, he has a desire to expand his team, as currently, he only has one team member in Davao. Fortunately, they now have seven new volunteers, and he is eager to witness their growth and development on their own volunteer journeys.

Dave's goal is to build and strengthen the internal core of iVolunteer Mindanao. By doing so, they can better support partner NGOs and help them stand on their own. It's essential for them to be capable and thriving internally so that they can effectively assist others. He dreams of helping more organizations in Mindanao and making a positive impact on their causes.

Encouragement for Aspiring Volunteers: Embrace the Journey

As per Dave, for those who want to volunteer but don't know where to start, the mere fact that they are thinking about doing volunteer work is already a part of volunteerism. The moment they become curious and start searching for opportunities is the beginning of their journey. 

They can start by attending volunteer events, one at a time, and gradually immerse themselves in the experience. They can go back after a few months and continue participating. The key is to make every volunteering experience, whether small or large, a learning opportunity. After each activity, take some time to reflect on how it impacted you and how it will impact the community. This reflective process is essential as it deepens the understanding of the significance of volunteerism and its effects.

Even if you start with something as simple as repacking rice for donation, and as you continue, you may find yourself longing to be involved in more volunteering activities because it becomes an integral part of your life and your desire to contribute to the community.

Volunteering is not just about giving back to others; embrace the journey of volunteering and be open to the lessons it has to offer. Allow yourself to be transformed by the experiences, the people you meet, and the causes you support. Volunteerism has the power to shape your values, beliefs, and perspective, making you a more compassionate and understanding individual.

Don’t be afraid to seek guidance and mentorship, just as Dave did in his volunteer journey. Reach out to experienced volunteers or organizations like iVolunteer for support and advice. They can provide valuable insights and help you navigate any challenges you may encounter.

Lastly, volunteering can be a transformative and life-enriching experience. It offers an opportunity to make a positive impact on the community, grow as an individual, and connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for making a difference. Embrace the journey of volunteerism, and let it be a driving force that shapes your life and the lives of those around you. Together, we can create a better and more compassionate world through the power of volunteering.

This story is an entry to COMCO Mundo’s “UNMASKED: The COMCO Mundo Write to Ignite Season 3”.  The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities. “UNMASKED” aims to explore how each mask is a person brimming with hope and wonders to share with others, as well as why it is important to tell their inspiring journeys in life. The “Write to Ignite” Season 3 is made possible by COMCO Mundo League of Enterprises, with airasia, Babyflo, PHILUSA Corporation, Century Tuna, Licealiz, Lamoiyan Corporation, Rémy Martin, and Uratex Monoblock as brand partners.

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