It’s not like we are all confined to the problems of our own life that we don’t have time for others. In most cases, we just don’t know who would need our help and how to reach them. Unless we know someone personally in an NGO or a school for special children, it’s hard to find out what they need. And this is where Chennai Volunteers comes into play. Started in early 2011, Chennai Volunteers has steadily grown with over 1,000 active volunteers and now and caters to the needs of about 25 organisations including NGOs, schools for special children and homes for elderly, among others. Most importantly, the service is free for both the volunteers and the organisations.
Run by two friends, Rinku Mecheri and Samyukta Gupta of the Mecheri Foundation, Chennai Volunteers, in their own words “does the job of connecting dots”. Rinku Mecheri said she had a bad experience when she wanted to do some volunteer work and that’s when she decided to start Chennai Volunteers. And both Rinku and Samyuktha have spent about nine months to get the right module in place. “There was no set module for the work. A volunteer would like to work with children, while housewives would like spend time with the elderly. You can’t put them in different places and if your service doesn’t help volunteers, they are not going to call you back. So we had to work it out,” says Rinku.
Chennai Volunteers classifies interested people into different categories and provides them an opportunity to serve people easily.
“Loyola College’s student affairs department and SRM University’s students’ outreach department send students in a bulk numbers as college volunteers. There are corporate volunteers from MNCs who want to spend meaningful time when they don’t work. Recently, we took students to an elderly home and celebrated a whole day with events and fun. That was an opportunity for those children to realise that they could make others happy in the world. It was nice to see elderly folks so happy,” recalls Samyuktha.
Chennai Volunteers doesn’t take you in if you say you want to volunteer. “After a person registers in our website, we conduct an interview and find out if the person is really interested and what their interests are. We go with them for a first few sessions and then club them with a senior volunteer,” says Rinku. It seems that Chennai Volunteers has become so familiar with the NGO circle that they demand what their requirements are.
Expansion plans are also afoot, “But that’s all at a later stage. Now if more people come forward to volunteer and feel fulfilled, that’s our success. But it’s already doing well,” smiles Rinku.