Volunteering day

By Manuel Iturbe BBVA Volunteer Office


Friday, October 1 is Volunteering Day, our day. I have been looking up definitions of “volunteering” and nearly all of them involve a desire to help others, having spare time and getting involved in an altruistic and organized way.

A desire to help: I think this is something we all have, although some people make an effort to disguise this behind egotism –with excellent results sometimes- in general, we can say that we all meet the first requirement to be volunteers.

Free time: For those like me who have taken early retirement there is not much merit in this, but many of our working colleagues also dedicate some of their valuable free time to volunteering. I would like to recognize their efforts and make a request to their bosses: I believe that you are sufficiently intelligent to know that, leaving aside the pressures of meeting objectives and day-to-day work, people perform better when they are satisfied in their work, and volunteering gives a great deal of satisfaction for just a few hours effort.

Getting involved: This last step can be the most difficult, as we often do not know where to start. In our case, this problem is solved by the Volunteering Office, so everyone who meets the first two requirements has no excuse for not volunteering. Subscribe to the office bulletin and you will have the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of areas including the environment, education, support for socially marginalized groups, etc.

The results: Here I need to tell you my story, although it is not unusual among my colleagues. After spending my working life in the BBVA Group it came time to take early retirement: but because I have always wanted to help and I now had free time, I got involved through the Group Volunteering Office (where my wife was already involved). The Volunteering Office has enabled me to take part in a wide range of activities:

  • In education –my personal preference- I have been involved in digital literacy courses for immigrants and neighborhood associations.
  • Working with children (going back to school is priceless) on courses to prevent children abandoning school and more recently on the Valores de Futuro Valores de Futuro program.
  • I have also had the opportunity to take part in unique experiences, such as Caminos de Libertad (Paths to Freedom), environmental programs and everything else proposed to me by Joaquín and my friends in the Volunteering Office. We have an excellent channel for getting involved: use it.

Giving and receiving: Whilst you think you are going to give (the sin of vanity in new volunteers), you find that you are endlessly receiving in terms of friendship from colleagues, developing human relationships, learning and constant personal satisfaction: the faces and reaction of children when you manage to get them interested in a course; the gratefulness and desire to learn of the groups on literacy courses. You receive lessons in commitment, solidarity, comradeship and desire to progress from all sides. And then they pay you in the best available currency – smiles.

I would like to finish by telling you about my best experience as a volunteer, which was during a break when walking the Camino de Santiago trail and hearing one of the participants in the “Caminos de Libertad” program describing their feelings of freedom. Through their appreciation of the colors, smells, sounds and views, I came to understand how little we value the important things when we have them. Just listening that morning was enough to make it all worthwhile.