I’m one of the founders of TeamKinetic and have been responsible for developing and maintaining our technical assets for the last decade. Wow that’s a weighty word….a decade.
As anyone that has been involved in a startup or building up their own business will know, you have to be adaptable and willing to learn….alot. It means I’ve developed a pretty wide skill set. I can provision a server, write a dynamic pivot query or build an Android app, but I’m always aware of how much more there is to learn. Whenever I read about real, focused experts explaining how to provide high availability multi node SQL servers, or build a super efficient sorting algorithm, I’m in awe of the depth of knowledge and experience they have.
Luckily for me there are plenty of excellent communities full of geniuses willing to share knowledge and ideas. They don’t get paid, they just love sharing the cool stuff and volunteer their knowledge and time to anyone that asks. I couldn’t do the wide range of tasks that are required without their help.
I don’t know how many of our volunteers are geniuses, but from the data I collate its clear that they invest a huge amount of time and effort in helping their communities. There are individuals that have logged hundreds of hours, supporting their neighbours and cities.
My own volunteering efforts are small by comparision but I do regular volunteer for charities and organisations that resonate with me. At present I’m driving for Age Concern, dropping people off at tea parties on the weekends. I’ve also volunteered with Silverline who match you with a retired person that you call every week at a set time and have a natter.
I watched my own grandad become more and more isolated once my grandma died. He lived in Tenby which was a 2 hour drive from where the rest of the family lived and he refused to move or enter a retirement home so we couldn’t be there every day. There always seemed to be an internal struggle for him; in admitting he was lonely or needing help, that admission would make his age and growing infirmity real and his independence became his most treasured faculty.
So my history tugs me towards those organisations that help keep isolated people connected. But volunteering can lead you in unexpected directions.
My wife and I were donating at a charity shop and did some hours helping out at a Barnardos shop. We read some literature about fostering, looked into it, and made a few calls.
We ended up doing short term respite breaks for full time foster families, despite not ever considering having our own children. We looked after three different young people over the next five years. I always felt a bit of a fraud as it was no trouble and mostly good fun! After a few years completing the training and course work I obtained a professional qualification in foster care.
Once you open a door there are always plenty more behind it. Keep volunteering, people need you and appreciate it, sometimes even more than you realise.