As part of a new ongoing series we’re celebrating the work of our volunteers using their professional communication skills to give a charity or not for profit a helping hand or boast. In the first in the series we’re celebrating the eggceptional talents of Susan Gentle.
Susan is a full time government policy and communications professional. In her spare time Susan volunteers through Good Eggs with the Brain Injury Association of NSW, helping people with acquired brain injuries tell their own stories. We caught up with Susan to talk all things volunteering.
Let’s start with why? Why volunteer and why through good eggs?
I was actually considering volunteering opportunities in mentoring when the placement struck a chord with me – it reflected my skill set which enabled me to have the confidence to make a positive impact.
I wanted to donate my time and skills for a cause I was passionate about and I jumped at the opportunity with the brain injury association.
My initial interest in volunteering was to expand my experience, then to do something meaningful with my spare time. Good eggs helped me find a position I was inherently interested in, that would make the most of my skills and found a match that excited me.
What is the project?
I’m helping people with acquired brain injuries tell their own stories: writing their stories for public and website presentation. I’m working on PowerPoint presentations, case studies and talking with people about their journey and experience and helping them tell their often emotional story.
What do you do when you are not being an eggling?
I work full time in government policy and communications
How easy has it been to juggle work with volunteering?
I’ve offered two hours a week which I find is manageable with a full time job, but I often give more because what I’m doing is interesting. I tend to break down the volunteering projects into small chunks of time and in that way find the time to manage a hour or two a week alongside a full time role.
My priorities instantly changed when I saw what was on offer and specifically this project. When this came up I was busy learning to drive, manic at work, juggling lots of other bits but I wanted to make it work, so I know how you can find time when you least expect it.
What if anything have you gained through this placement?
Since securing this placement I have newfound purpose and energy.
It has also reignited my passion in a work context, I look at the way I work and how I work in new and often creative ways. It has brought a new level of positivity inside and outside of my work.
I often see symmetries between my work and volunteering that I would have never thought existed. It’s shown me what interests me and shown me how much I can really care about a cause.
I see this as a long term opportunity to make a positive impact.
Do you have a motto?
If I could I would stop to give all the time, but this experience has helped me focus on what I can offer and how my skills can be applied in a new setting.
I’ve done plenty of other types of volunteering but being able to utilise my expertise has been very rewarding, communication skills are very transferable and I’ve found no barriers to coming from a government background into helping out in the third sector.
How did you find out about us?
I connected via LinkedIn
What benefits to the charity do you see?
Every small task is something less they have to find time for, and we are sharing skills and ways of working. It’s a two way street, the brain injury association have been very open to more effective working, remote work and developing their communication skill sets.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?
Do it – you never think you’ve got enough time but it’s very easy to find the time for something you’re passionate about. Pick a role that really interests you, be honest and realistic about your commitment and go for it.
Once I started talking with the charity and understanding their needs I knew I wanted to make it work.
I would say to people that you don’t have to give up things to fit in the two or so hours it’s just a rearrangement and a juggle of other bits. Even my 20 minute commute or an hour normally spent aimlessly on the internet becomes time that can be used incredibly productively.
How do you like your eggs?
Raw, it maximises the storytelling possibilities
We would like to eggtend our sincere thanks to Susan for her support and enthusiasm for the Good Egg Initiative. Susan has a wonderful positive outlook on the world and we’re thrilled to have matched her to an organisation she was so passionate about.
If you or someone you know would like to volunteer their storytelling skills for an hour or so a week and would make an good eggling just drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to join a range of communication professionals on our LinkedIn group to share ideas and inspiration, there is no commitment to undertake a project by joining. LinkedIn