Jenny Graham, Alumni Giving Manager
To celebrate 'Volunteering Week' we spoke to Jenny Graham from Alumni Relations about her experiences volunteering.
You have been a volunteer on both Staff Committee and the Community Action Group. How did you become involved with these groups?
The time I spent on Staff Committee was sparked by wanting to raise the profile of the committee and encourage greater engagement from my department. My time with the Community Action Group started with the LBS Christmas Toy Drive 2014. But it wasn’t until 2015 that I became involved with other initiatives. A colleague came to me for help with an aromatherapy session at a local shelter for women. I was uncertain about how the session would work out and how the women would respond to us - especially because I have zero expertise in aromatherapy! But it was a hugely valuable and enjoyable experience. It sparked my commitment and passion for future volunteering projects, and made me recognise how much the local community could benefit if we all gave some of our time.
How have you benefited from volunteering?
My social and professional network at LBS has significantly increased through holding a position on Staff Committee and getting involved in volunteering initiatives. This has not only benefitted my work in Advancement, but also made me feel increasingly engaged with what is happening across the School. Of great importance is the insight I’ve gained by participating in community initiatives. I have connected with people from hugely different backgrounds. Their stories have at times made my heart break, but their perseverance and attitude has been truly admirable. Every time I volunteer I am inspired by the people I meet.
How has the School supported you?
Tina Clark, Chair of the Community Action Group, and the rest of the committee do the most fantastic job of building and maintaining relationships with our local community. They provide wonderful opportunities to get involved and strong support on each initiative. And of course being able to take days off for volunteering opportunities is fantastic!
Have any of your experiences changed your outlook?
I know it’s a cliché, but my time on both Staff Committee and volunteering in the community has opened up my eyes – big time! Staff Committee provided me with a much greater understanding of how the School is run and the decisions and challenges it faces. I really admire the work put in to make it a safe, rewarding and enjoyable place to work. Through work with CAG I’ve met adults and children in enormously difficult situations, which has definitely made me reflect. One of the most valuable experiences was delivering a Young Enterprise programme to 12-13 year olds at Haggerston School. I could tell that the content had made a huge difference to their aspirations.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering?
Do it! There are so many benefits. You meet people from all walks of life, increase your professional network at LBS and gain a multitude of different skills and knowledge.
What’s the best bit of advice anyone has ever given you?
We don’t know how many years we each have on this planet, so make the most of every day and every opportunity. YOLO as the kids say…
Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?
Despite lacking musical talent through school and university, I took to playing the ukulele in the last couple of years and have joined the LBS ukulele movement. I now love singing and playing in public and would recommend it to everyone. And coincidentally I believe details of the ukulele group at the School are mentioned elsewhere in Life@LBS this month!
The School supports staff, faculty and students to make a difference through their volunteering activities and community initiatives. Watch how you can make an impact in the community and remind yourself why it's good to give your time to volunteering.
Volunteer with the Community Action Group today!