Having started volunteering in 1994 when 3VA was known as Eastbourne Association for Voluntary Services, or EAVS, this Volunteers’ Week we are celebrating Cécile Stheeman’s 25th anniversary with us. We recently sat down with Cécile to find out more about her experience as a volunteer.
What do you do as a volunteer at 3VA?
“Over the years I have done everything from answering the telephone and greeting visitors to making sandwiches, signposting people and helping out in a general office environment. I also very much enjoy assisting at 3VA events and I spend lots of time proofreading – a skill which I find is very much in demand!”
Why did you start volunteering?
“Prior to coming to 3VA, I had been my husband’s full-time carer for many years and, 6 months after his death, I went to EAVS to see if that was the right place to find some voluntary work. Having been out of the work force for so many years had left me with a sense of isolation and a total lack of self-confidence. I spoke to the volunteer co-ordinator for about 10 minutes and was extremely surprised when she suggested I start as a volunteer receptionist for 2 mornings a week.”
What do you like about volunteering?
“Volunteering was an ideal experience for me and, at the age of 86, it still is! I find that every day is different volunteering at 3VA. At one moment the office can be eerily quiet, the next moment it is swarming with visitors, telephones are ringing and the postman needs a signature for a parcel.”
How does volunteering benefit you?
“Going to 3VA two mornings a week gives structure to my life, as well as a sense of purpose and achievement. I have met so many people from all areas of life, made new friends and learnt a great deal about human nature.”
What advice do you have for people who are interested in volunteering?
“Go ahead and do it! Everyone has a skill or talent to share, even if they don’t think they have. Increase the chances of finding the right volunteering opportunity for you by asking how you can help – for example, at a charity shop or even your doctor’s surgery. Be proactive.”
All of us at 3VA thoroughly enjoy working with Cécile; her support is invaluable. In addition to being committed, enthusiastic and reliable, Cécile has a wonderful sense of humour and makes 3VA a better place!
Want to hear about volunteering from more local people? Together with our partners at Eastbourne Volunteers and Heathfield & District Volunteer Centre, 3VA has compiled volunteer stories to shed light on how people want to volunteer, what motivates them and what they want to get out of being involved. Feel free to share them to encourage more people to consider getting involved and volunteering in our local communities.