There are many factors that lead me to my current volunteer position with Habitat for Humanity Ireland. I'm 28 years old, from Charlotte, NC with a degree in Mass Communication and some experience working in marketing for a small regional niche company in the south of the USA. The last few years have seen me moving from one temporary position to another with very little fulfilment. I realized that I needed to be working in a field that enabled me to give something back.
Then out of the blue one day I got an email from a non-profit mailing list I was on saying that there was an immediate vacancy for a full-time volunteer position with Habitat for Humanity Ireland. I knew in that moment that my life was about to change.
The two weeks between sending in the application and finding out that I got the position where the longest in my life, though somehow I knew that it was going to work out the way that it was supposed to. The day I actually found out I was going to be the new Local Volunteer Coordinator at Habitat for Humanity Ireland was the most exciting, terrifying and exhilarating day of my life.
So, I had a position with Habitat for Humanity in Ireland, but how was I going to do this financially? I sold my car to pay off my outstanding debts and then had two months to raise about $10,000. It's pretty amazing what you can make happen with enough motivation and faith. I found out about the position in May 2006 and was able to raise close to $10,000 and relocate to Dublin by July 2006.
Through that experience alone I grew and learned so much about the generosity of humanity. Someone said to me once that fundraising like this is a way of giving people the opportunity to give back. That if I didn't ask, I was taking away their opportunity to do something good and be a part of an amazing organization like Habitat for Humanity.
Since I have been here I have learned even more about what I am capable of. It's so affirming to be in a place where I am so appreciated and trusted. In these first three months there has been much change for this organization. My responsibilities have been expanded to include family selection and liaising with the families from Habitat Ireland's first build (completed earlier this year), as well as helping to complete their mortgages.
In addition I have made presentations with our corporate sponsors here in Dublin, met top ranking government officials and attended volunteer fairs in other parts of the country to build up Habitat for Humanity's presence in Dublin and all over Ireland. I have also been working with the staff to recruit more long term volunteers to help propel this program along and have been directly involved in the long-term planning of the future of this local program in Ireland.
In the relatively short time that I have been here I have learned so much and have a renewed confidence in my abilities and what I have to offer. It's that sink or swim idea. I was thrown into a situation that I did not anticipate, but have been able to greatly impact and, I hope, better this program.
Jessica Chinery has joined Habitat for Humanity Ireland through Habitat’s International Volunteer Program.
What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:
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