Paraic began his volunteering journey at the young age of 6. Inspired by his parents who were involved in the Irish Red Cross, Paraic would help his dad give out the envelopes used for the collections and help at some of the social events by bringing in the food and clearing tables. Paraic continued to be involved in the Irish Red Cross over the years and now sits on the National working group as part of the Irish Red Cross.
Paraic is passionate about volunteering and is still involved in a big way. As well as the Irish Red Cross, Paraic is involved with Drogheda Special Olympics Club, helping to support and guide new volunteers. He sits on the Implementation group for the Louth Volunteer Framework and is a member of the Louth Community Volunteers who help during community events and if any urgent community support is needed.
Paraic is currently volunteering with the Drogheda Special Olympics. He has taken on the role of volunteer coordinator. ‘My passion at the moment in volunteering is supporting other people in volunteering.’ Paraic is putting a focus on encouraging new volunteers to join and support the club. Paraic would love to see more young people get involved in volunteering at the club. ‘Young people bring new energy to an organisation.’
When I asked Paraic what it is he has gotten from volunteering he told me ‘It has given me clarity on my own mindset and what I want from life.’ Paraic found that volunteering let him try lots of different things and helped him to make choices around career paths. ‘It helps you figure out what your true values are.’
A volunteer moment that has really stood out to Paraic was a request that was received for a driver to drop a lady to a radiotherapy appointment on Saint Stephenson’s Day in Dublin. During the early morning trip, the lady chatted with Paraic, she didn’t really have family in Ireland and was having a tough time with treatment for her illness. On the drive home Paraic reflected on the journey he had taken. Unfortunately, this was a journey Paraic had done a few years previous with his own Mum who had been unwell and sadly passed away. ‘That woman had no one, I know how much it meant to Mam that we would all come up and visit, the thought of that lady being by herself was difficult but at least I could make sure she got their safely.’ Paraic felt that this moment was a huge driving factor for him to get involved in the community element of the Irish Red Cross. ‘No one in that situation should have to be by themselves or go get the bus, being able to bring someone there and walk them right where they need to go is important. If all I could do is one journey in a lifetime, I am glad I done that one.’
Paraic has been involved with Louth Volunteer Centre for many years as a volunteer and from an organisation perspective. Paraic likes having the link with Louth Volunteer Centre to keep him updated with what is happening ‘having that support and connection is important it is nice to be able to pop in or receive the email with updates of training and things happening. A recent piece of work by Louth Volunteer Centre that Paraic really enjoyed was the New Connections programme. ‘Inclusive volunteering is something that needs to be spoken about more and implemented.’ Paraic particularly recommends Louth Volunteer Centre to new volunteers ‘it is somewhere to go, and you know you will get the support you need, and they can signpost you to relevant volunteer opportunities.’
Paraic would encourage everyone to get involved in volunteering. When starting out Paraic would recommend people look at what time they have between work commitments, family friends and see where they can fit volunteering into their lifestyle. ‘Set your own limits and have a healthy volunteer approach, that way it doesn’t take over it is manageable and enjoyable.’ Paraic would also encourage everyone to think of the benefits they will get from volunteering. ‘You're going to be more active, you're going to get to meet new people and no matter how serious a role is there is always an element of fun.’ Paraic would also encourage people to look through the roles on offer ‘there is something there for anyone.’
When I asked Paraic to share some final words with perspective volunteers he recommended ‘don’t over think it and just give it a go’. Paraic feels that when you get involved in volunteering it is incredibly rewarding and there is a role out there for everyone.