5 December is International Volunteers Day! We think every day should be volunteers’ day but we’d like to take this opportunity to give a special thanks to all the volunteers who, day in and day out, make our work at Greenpeace possible.
We’d also like to introduce you to one of our longest standing volunteers, Sarah. After ten years with us (she has outlasted many paid staff), Sarah tells us why she keeps turning up to the Greenpeace office.
Why do you volunteer with Greenpeace?
I remember discussing with a friend the relative merits of environmental issues and social justice issues and deciding the environment was basic to everything else. I liked Greenpeace’s practical approach to working on environmental issues.
What do you do as a volunteer with Greenpeace?
Before coming to Greenpeace I’d been a librarian, a teacher and a secretary so I was used to doing anything in the way of general office work, as well as proof reading.
Do you do other things that have a positive impact on the environment?
I’m probably in the habit of doing all the things that my generation does in the way of using less and recycling, which is what we all did in the 1950s.
What do you most enjoy about volunteering with Greenpeace?
I like the feeling of being involved in the issues which Greenpeace campaigns on. Volunteers have the time to do work which might otherwise have to be time spent by a full-time worker. As with library work, every day is different.
Have there been any highlights from your time as a volunteer?
In 2007 Greenpeace had a Grey Power campaign, with the aim of encouraging older people to work for the environment. By virtue of being an older person in the office at the time, I spent a lot of that year organising Grey Power meetings in three electorates, helping to organise candidates forums before the state elections, and speaking to service organisations.
What’s one of the worst things about volunteering?
Feeling like little miss goody two shoes. People feel they have to be grateful to you all the time even though you’re just happy to be doing what you’re doing. And if you do something terrible no one will ever tell you!
What’s the most important environmental issue for you and why?
To me, climate change has to be the most important environmental issue of all. In Sydney we live in such a wonderful climate it’s sometimes hard to imagine the changes going on in the rest of the world. The world my grandchildren will live in is of huge concern.
You organised a stall at Manly Ocean Care Day this Sunday. Tell us what encouraged you to take this initiative and if you think it was a valuable experience?
Festivals such as Manly Ocean Care Day are a good opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and from all over the world. It’s interesting to hear opposing points of view as well as be encouraged by the amount of positive support for Greenpeace’s campaigns. In the office we are aware of and agree on environmental issues; to talk to someone at a stall who disagrees is a challenge and forces you to think out your own position.
As well as personal benefits for those running the stall, it’s good to be spreading useful information, we hope, into the community and gaining support for Greenpeace and its campaigns.
Pics from Manly Ocean Care Day 2012: