Profile of a Corporate Volunteer
It takes a special type of person to research funding avenues and to write applications but Helen Whitcombe has a passion to do this and do it well. She has been able to combine this interest and an interest in sustainability to her workplace in her role as a Project Administrator for Grid Solutions at Transpower NZ.
Following one year of consecutive service, permanent staff at Transpower are offered a volunteer day to work in a voluntary capacity for a community organisation of their choice.
Recently Helen used her volunteer day at Volunteer Wellington to assist with our funding application to print this newsletter. “I like helping people, sharing information and researching. I can come into an organisation as a ‘neutral’ person and research various funding avenues that an organisation may not have thought about” says Helen.
Helen calls on 25 years of experience in the health and disability sector, as a mother with a child with special needs and having a disability herself. Her son fell between disability funding streams which prompted her to start researching funding alternatives and assisting other families to access their entitlements also. Now she finds researching is a talent she loves.
“I understand about being different and the importance of being accepted as who you are. I am passionate about helping others”.
When Helen joined Transpower in August last year, she was able to further her volunteering interests by joining the Sustainability Team. As one of 16 in the team nationwide who decide on new initiatives, one of their objectives is to increase volunteer day usage; with her drive this would be highly achievable. The Sustainability Team’s Mission Statement is ‘to represent staff and show “bottom up” leadership to raise Transpower’s sustainability performance and create a strong culture and awareness of Transpower’s Commitment to Sustainability. This is achieved by undertaking projects to raise staff awareness, promote culture change and celebrate improvements.’
Helen has made it easy for staff to access volunteer opportunities by promoting these on Transpower’s intranet called “The Volt” and on staff notice boards nationally and regionally. The Volt gets updated as new projects come in while the printed version is updated monthly. She has also created an easy to use form for organisations offering a volunteer opportunity to complete.
Only an experienced volunteer organiser can achieve such good results. Helen started her volunteering in Auckland taking the role of prompter/conductor for the Auckland Deaf Sign Singers. She also volunteered with CCS at a holiday camp for children with special needs. While living in Central Hawkes Bay Helen volunteered with Waipukurau Lions with among other tasks she organised and coordinated volunteers to ‘man’ the gates at the local A&P show. While living in Palmerston North, one year Helen coordinated the Foundation of the Blind’s Guide Dog appeal, organising collectors, doing pickups/drop offs and coordinating the thank-you afternoon tea for volunteers. Experience with such community groups has given Helen considerable knowledge of the non-profit sector which she is able to bring to her commitments with the Sustainability Group at Transpower.
Thank you Volunteer Wellington for this story which was published in Issue 21, November 2010.