Wednesday, 4 April 2012

From One Off Projects to Project Leader...

Hello! My name is Rachael Penzo, and I'm a third year Biomedical Sciences student, and longtime volunteer here at Kingston University.

Rachael (left) volunteering for Save the Children
I started volunteering towards the end of my first year, and I must admit, when I first came to university, I had no interest in volunteer work whatsoever. A few one-off volunteering opportunities soon changed all that, and I have been in and out the volunteering office ever since! I have walked hounds and painted kennels, made Christmas cards for Whizz Kids, and I've even waded knee-deep in the Hogsmill River! I’ve also participated in a number of projects outside KUSU Volunteering, including weed bashing for RockCorps, and chaperoning for The Big Bang Fair and Save the Children events!

But I think my most memorable experience as a volunteer has got to be running Knit Hats for Babies, a project whereby I taught volunteers to knit hats for premature babies, which were then distributed to local hospitals. The sessions gave us a break from the everyday life, the stresses of being a student, and a guaranteed way to socialise with other like-minded individuals. Running my own project taught me patience, compassion, and other transferable skills that can not only be used to help further my career, but in general social environments as well.

Rachael and friends at the Big Bang Science Fair 
I have spread the word to all my friends, and almost all of them volunteer now in one form or another! To me, doing something out of the kindness of your own heart, by giving back to the community you are so proudly part of, gives me the biggest warm, fuzzy feeling inside (and I want to share this amazing feeling with everyone!).

Volunteering is an integral part of me now; it's one of the ways I define myself. I can definitely see myself volunteering in the future, and I hope it will stay with me for the rest of my life! 

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