David Heeny

A photo of David volunteer on St Patrick's Day

David began his volunteer journey in 2018. David started volunteering to help him in his recovery from addiction. “I was in early recovery, I wanted to see how the community worked and connect with people. I didn’t want to leave recovery and go back to old ways.”  

In 2018 David called into Louth Volunteer Centre in the hope of finding a way to connect with his community through volunteering. “I was worried they wouldn’t be able to help me due to my previous criminal record. I didn’t know there would be stuff I would be able to volunteer with and stuff that I would be good at. I was expecting another red flag and that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I was able to do it.”

David who has now been in recovery several years is still massively involved in volunteering and supports many local organisations. I asked David what motivates him to continue volunteering and he told me “For my own mental health, it's also a good reminder of where I came from. From walking into Louth Volunteer Centres office where I thought I would be given a red flag to where I am now”. David also spoke about the enjoyment he gets from volunteering being a huge motivator. “I know loads of people in the town now and they purposely come over to me when I am out fundraising and donate, I like that.”  

In terms of skills David feels he has gained a lot from volunteering. “I have learned a lot of social skills, particularly how to talk to people. I was very delicate when I came into recovery. I needed to learn how to do this and how things worked.”  

David has a number of moments that have really stood out to him during his time volunteering. David has partaken in many bucket collections, several times when he has asked people to donate, they have responded in a rude manner, but David always remains polite, kind, and friendly. People often notice this and in turn donate and tell him what fantastic work he is doing. “That just makes me feel great, it reminds me that there are good people in the town.” Another moment that really stood out to David was recently at the mid-summer 5k when he volunteered as a steward. David found himself standing beside the Guard that had arrested him and pushed for his jail time in the past. She greeted him and was happy to see him and see how he was getting on. For David this was a very different interaction with the Guards than he would have been used to in the past and a great example of how things can turn around.  

Another fantastic opportunity David has got from volunteering is being able to share it with his family. “I have been able to bring my nephew volunteering with me and for me that is powerful. I am getting to share this with him and show him how the community works, I didn’t have that as a kid so its brilliant to be able to share it with him.  

David feels that Louth Volunteer Centre has been a brilliant support to him with his volunteering. “I am aware I have a criminal record and not all roles I can apply for, but they helped me find roles that are suitable and always happy to support me. David would recommend Louth Volunteer Centre to other people in recovery and for other people who may have been isolated from their community.  He feels it is a great way to find out “who they are, what they like and to make ties with their community.”

David has now travelled around the country sharing his story about addiction and recovery and has gone on to complete his level 5 Community Addiction Studies training. “I want to share my story and attract other people to recovery.”  

David would encourage everyone to get involved in volunteering. “It’s great to get to know how your community works and to connect with people. It also teaches you to be grateful for what we have in our community. Volunteering is a real eye opener to see how much work is actually done in the community. What you give to volunteering you always get far more back.”