Michelle Heenan Story
I began volunteering for Novas just over a year ago. As I was browsing through the Volunteer Limerick website, an opportunity for volunteering on the nightly Street Outreach Project caught my attention.
The Street Outreach Project gives out food to the most marginalised people of Limerick City. I sent in my application and was contacted very promptly by volunteer co-ordinator Chris O’ Connor. I was invited to attend a very informative induction evening in Novas’ head office. Here I learned that they were always looking for people who had extra skills in different areas to bring to their services. As I am a qualified beautician I informed them of this. Chris was delighted and felt that I could use these skills in one of their many services.
I began volunteering in DIAL (Developing Independent Active Living), a service for young adults exiting the care system who are at risk of homelessness. I volunteered once a week for about two hours. I provided a range of treatments including facials, tinting, manicures, pedicures and make-up skills. The residents always appreciated my service and seemed delighted to see me coming. I looked forward to going to DIAL on a weekly basis and meeting the girls. It was nice to be able to help and I really enjoyed my time there.
Volunteering in a homeless service really opened up my eyes and changed my perception of homeless people in society. The media can sometimes portray homeless people in a negative way. It’s not until you become involved in this area, that you realise homeless people are just like you and me.
During my time volunteering, locum job positions became available in Novas. I was in my final year at that time studying for a degree in Social Care so I decided to apply. I was successful in gaining employment and I have been working for Novas ever since. I definitely feel that volunteering in the service helped me gain employment.
I would highly recommend volunteering to everyone. It not only boosts your own feelings of self-worth but it also lets you meet some of the nicest, most interesting people you would not have the opportunity of meeting otherwise. Without doubt volunteering gave me the practical experience I needed in order to work in the field. Volunteering bridges that gap between education and the workplace.