“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” Gandhi.
My name is Rubain Naidu, and I am a student that graduated from high school in 2014 and decided to spend a gap year volunteering for Cancer Council NSW. This experience has been far beyond amazing, as I was able to give some of my time to contribute towards the fight against cancer.
Being a volunteer for seven months, I have been involved in two different roles: an Information Provider at the Westmead Hospital’s Cancer Council Information Centre (CCIC), and a Coordinator Assistant for the Community Speaker’s Program (CSP) in the Greater Western Sydney Region.
Being involved in two completely different programs, where one is patient-centred, and the other focuses on prevention and awareness, I was able to understand the cancer issue and the work that Cancer Council NSW does on a wider perspective. As well as this, I developed a wider-range skill set, as being a Cancer Council Information Centre volunteer allowed me to gain experience in empathising with patients, having sensitive conversations, and engaging in active listening to ensure that cancer patients, carers, family and friends, can gain the most relevant information and support as possible.
Whereas being a Community Speaker Program Coordinator Assistant provided me with experience of taking a leadership role within an office setting. In this role, I assisted in the organisation of presentations to communities, corporates, school and hospitals, through building relationships with the hosts and communicating to the CSP volunteers.
One of the most rewarding experiences of this was working within different teams within this role.
Firstly, I report back to our wonderful Volunteering and Partnership Coordinator, Eleonora, and I work very closely with her. I work collaboratively with the Cancer Council NSW Greater Western Sydney Team, such as with the fundraising team to provide presentations and talks to fundraisers, and I take a lead role in communicating and building rapport with the Community Speaker volunteers.
It has been a great experience working with the Community Programs Coordinator, Debbie, who is also my supervisor for the CCIC. As we work in a collaborative approach by organising both Community Speakers and Information Centre volunteers for certain events (such as at hospitals), I was able to understand from my experience as a CCIC volunteer and as a CSP Coordinator Assistant, that knowledge of patient support services, prevention and awareness, are an effective way to get the Cancer Council messages across.
Whilst the roles seem fairly different, a similarity is that they both involve a lot of communication and building rapport with others.
One of the greatest benefits of being involved in more than one program is that it increases your ability to think outside the box to deal with problems, and provides you with more confidence to cause change within the programs you are within. For example, the Community Program’s Coordinator Debbie and I have many discussions on how we can improve the services provided by the CCIC at the Westmead Hospital, and we work towards implementing these changes.
So if you have some time to spare, you can come get involved in another Cancer Council Program as the benefits you receive from it are limitless. You make so many new friends with volunteers and staff, and it is also a great resume builder. Don’t be afraid to try it, as I was initially doubtful if I would cope, but I now have no regrets towards the decision.