“Little did I know the extraordinary year that lay ahead” – Ballina 2023 Volunteer Co-ordinator Sheila Garvin shares her experience for National Volunteering Week
As with any large-scale project, volunteer support is essential to ensure that events can be delivered well, safely and enjoyably. To date, over 300 volunteers have given their time to various events and initiatives as part of Ballina 2023. To mark National Volunteering Week, our Volunteer Co-ordinator Sheila Garvin shares her experience:
“When I started volunteering with the Ballina 2023 team back in April 2022 as Volunteer Coordinator little did I know the extraordinary year that lay ahead….and it’s not over yet!
During that time, I have seen and participated in some behind the scenes planning for events large and small, connected with some amazing people, and shared in some unforgettable experiences. I am really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year of celebration has in store.
Ballina 2023 Volunteer Co-ordinator, Sheila Garvin (left) pictured with Ballina 2023 volunteers Avril Greham, Jordan Harel and Stuart Garland, and Maria Walsh MEP
As Volunteer Coordinator I have the privilege of engaging with various groups and individuals in our community, who show up and make all these events successful. So many people have responded to our messages for involvement and have come out in their hundreds over the course of the year so far, dedicating their time to support small-scale local events and large-scale events of global significance, such as the recent visit to Ballina by US President Joe Biden.
What I have noticed is that volunteering has really been a lifeline for so many after a hard couple years of isolation. It has brought new residents of Ballina into the heart of the community where previously connections may have been hard to establish. People who are just starting to call Ballina ‘home’ are making friendships and exploring what they can offer the town.
And of course, we have found assistance and leadership from groups who have been volunteering for decades in Ballina and know the town, inside out. Their experience has been absolutely invaluable to the planning and development of Ballina 2023 projects, and we are so grateful for the contribution they make to our town.
Volunteering is especially rewarding when you are doing something you enjoy, meeting new people and adding value to a project. Contributing even one hour a week can make a huge difference to a group or organisation who rely on the generosity of people. Your time is the most valuable thing you can give, and gaining experience, interacting with a diverse group, and exploring different opportunities are only some of the benefits of volunteering in return.
At Ballina 2023 we are here to celebrate the anniversary of the formal establishment of the town and we seek to involve everyone in those celebrations. We look to celebrate the people at the heart of all our activities and I would highly recommend getting involved.
If you would like to talk about how you could volunteer as part of Ballina 2023, please do feel free to get in touch. We have lots of opportunities!
Just some of our amazing volunteers pictured at Ballina 2023 events this year
National Volunteering Week is a weeklong celebration of volunteering, led by Volunteer Ireland that will take place from Monday 15 May – Sunday 21 May 2023.
Along with its national network of Volunteer Centres, including Mayo Volunteer Centre, Vounteer Ireland uses National Volunteering Week to amplify the incredible stories of volunteering in our communities through social and traditional media. It’s a week full of events, both online and in person, with everything from yoga to coffee mornings to seminars on offer. This year’s National Volunteering Week theme is ‘Connecting Communities’.