Maison du Père is fortunate to count on dozens of volunteers, whose work is greatly appreciated. But volunteers who have already been employed are a bit rarer! This is the case of Zoé, a 20-year-old young woman who was a receptionist for Maison du Père for several months and who returned to do voluntary work, in the midst of a pandemic, out of a passion for helping others.
We spoke with Zoé to discuss her journey and let her explain what long-term volunteering, as favored by Maison du Père, can bring to young people like her.
Her journey starts at the end of her high school studies. Then, Zoé then dreams of volunteering and living abroad. She has plans to volunteer at an orphanage in India, however her plans are thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Zoé is tireless. She persists, and finds a position at the reception desk of Maison du Père, because if she cannot travel, she can still help. “My happiness does not depend on the happiness of others,» she says, « but the happiness of others brings me great joy, and a great reason for being alive. ”
She then quits because she wants to help more and better but comes back to Maison du Père to now work on a voluntary basis. This allows her to be in contact and help even more closely the men accomodated here while, for example, serving food in the cafeteria, selling clothes at the thrift store and filling Christmas stockings with gifts for the men of the Maison. In doing so, she communicates to them “ that they are not alone on earth and that they have value ”, she says, adding that this human contact has helped her better understand homelessness.
This experience inspires her to encourage young people to volunteer, because beyond a chance to help,
volunteering allows “ to acquire so much experience ” which can attract potential employers, she says. It also allows people to find out if they want to make a career helping others. As for long-term volunteering, she recalls that it makes it possible to forge, with both users and employees, richer, deeper and more pleasant relationships.
Because this is indeed about pleasure. “ It brings me pleasure to give back, ” she concludes, “ because I have been given so much in life, because I am so lucky, so giving back is the least I can do. ”