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Join Carmen on her journey of volunteering with the European Solidarity Corps at ReStore Drogheda. Discover her motivations, favourite tasks, memorable experiences, and personal growth through this impactful volunteering experience.

What initially inspired you to volunteer with ReStore? 

Volunteering with ReStore was a decision born out of multiple desires and motivations. Firstly, I've always harboured a passion for working in the cooperation field, driven by a profound urge to witness tangible results from my efforts. The idea of directly impacting the community in a positive way was incredibly appealing and felt like a natural extension of my personal values. Additionally, I saw volunteering as an excellent opportunity to immerse myself in the Irish culture and improve my English skills. 

What skills, qualities, or experience do you bring to ReStore? 

My background and personal attributes equip me with a variety of skills and qualities that I believe are valuable to ReStore. One of my strongest assets is my easy-going nature, which allows me to interact comfortably with customers and fellow volunteers alike. Building rapport with others comes naturally to me, fostering a welcoming atmosphere within the store. Furthermore, my physical endurance enables me to tackle tasks with energy and enthusiasm, ensuring that I can contribute effectively to the day-to-day operations.  

What’s your favourite task? 

Among the various tasks I undertake at ReStore, one stands out as a personal favourite – going out for collections with Antonio. This activity presents a unique opportunity to engage with members of the local community on a more personal level. Meeting and interacting with locals not only enriches my understanding of the community but also allows me to forge meaningful connections. Moreover, participating in collections with Antonio provides invaluable insights into the needs and preferences of our community, guiding our efforts to better serve them. 

Can you share a memorable experience or story from your time volunteering at ReStore that has had a lasting impact on you? 

One particularly memorable experience during my time at ReStore involved participating in the House to Home program in Belfast. Alongside a fellow volunteer, Sara, I had the privilege of painting the house of a woman in need. As we worked together to transform her living space, I had the opportunity to learn more about her background and the challenges she faced. Witnessing the profound impact our efforts had on her life filled me with a profound sense of fulfilment and purpose. The experience reinforced my belief in the transformative power of community support and left an indelible mark on my heart. 

In what ways do you think volunteering at ReStore has influenced your views on sustainability and environmental responsibility? 

While I've always been conscious of environmental sustainability, my experience at ReStore has deepened my understanding of its importance. Working within an organisation that prioritizes sustainability has heightened my awareness of environmental issues and inspired me to adopt more eco-friendly practices in my daily life. From reducing waste to promoting recycling, ReStore has instilled in me a greater sense of responsibility towards preserving our planet for future generations. 

Have you seen any specific examples of how ReStore has directly benefited individuals or families in your community? 

Yes, my time at ReStore has provided numerous opportunities to witness first-hand the positive impact it has on individuals and families in our community. One striking example is the support provided to volunteers who face social challenges. Through meaningful employment opportunities and skill-building activities, ReStore empowers these individuals to enhance their capabilities and increase their employability. Witnessing their growth and development is truly heartening and reaffirms the importance of ReStore's mission in our community. 

How has volunteering at ReStore contributed to your personal growth and development? 

Volunteering at ReStore has been instrumental in fostering my personal growth and development in various ways. Beyond honing my skills in cooperation and customer interaction, it has offered me the chance to navigate a foreign country with a different language and culture. Overcoming the initial challenges of language barriers has bolstered my confidence and communication skills, allowing me to connect more effectively with others. Moreover, living with a local family has provided invaluable insights into Irish culture and customs, fostering a greater sense of adaptability and cultural awareness within me. 

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met in ReStore and why? 

Without a doubt, Paddy (House to Home supervisor) stands out as one of the most interesting individuals I've had the pleasure of meeting at ReStore. His caring nature and infectious positivity never fail to lift the spirits of those around him. Whether it's lending a helping hand or offering words of encouragement, Paddy embodies the spirit of community and camaraderie that defines ReStore. His unwavering dedication and warmth serve as a constant source of inspiration to me and remind me of the profound impact that kindness and compassion can have on others. 

To learn more about the volunteering opportunities available in ReStore click here, or you can read more volunteer stories here.

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