This blog is the second installment of our volunteer story series. Doug Sage lives in Toronto, Canada and is a retired business owner. He has been a TPRF volunteer for about one year. Beryl Williams lives in the UK and runs a translation services company. Beryl and Doug are members of the international Peace Education Program volunteer team. The following story contains excerpts from interviews conducted with these two volunteers.
TPRF: Please describe your volunteer role, Doug.
DS: Actually, I’ve become involved in several roles during the past year. On the local level, I help to set up and facilitate PEP meetings that occur in Toronto. I also provide technical support for the monthly, global conference call for PEP volunteers. In addition, I respond to emails that come in from individuals interested in initiating local PEP meetings, and from people with questions about the material. Most recently, Sherry Weinstein, Peace Education Program Manager, has asked me and another person to help keep track of the many people worldwide who want to do PEP and send emails with their progress at varying stages.
TPRF: That sounds like a lot, Doug.
DS: Not if you enjoy what you are doing.
TPRF: What do you find to be the most satisfying aspects of your TPRF involvement?
DS: Just to see the reaction of the PEP participants to the materials and the videos, to observe the transformation that happens. I also enjoy learning about what’s going on around the world when I do tech support for the monthly PEP volunteer conference call. The enthusiasm of the volunteers and the growth of the program are truly amazing.
TPRF: What are some of the personal skills and strengths you employ in your volunteer work?
DS: Well, I’m good at organization. You need that skill to run a business. I use my computer skills quite a bit. And I think my people skills have come in handy. I’m a good communicator. I like working with people. Working in sales in my business helped me to develop my people skills.
TPRF: Beryl, tell us a little bit about yourself
BW: I live in Yorkshire in the woodlands, and work from home as a translator, which enables me to respond quickly to any communications. My hobbies are walking, and observing wild flowers and nature in general. There’s nothing I love to hear more than the silence of the countryside, and sharing this with my 10-year old granddaughter.
TPRF: What inspired you to volunteer for the Peace Education Program team, Beryl?
BW: I was attending a conference in Australia when TPRF launched the PEP with some moving videos of their prison initiative. As I live near one of Europe’s biggest high security prisons, it felt especially relevant to me to see how the Peace Education Program has transformed the lives of the inmates in the program. Because I have language skills, I felt I had something to offer.
TPRF: Tell us something about a “Day in the Life” of yourself, as a PEP volunteer.
BW: First thing in the morning, I log in and answer queries from people all over the world who are interested in the PEP. My job is to respond to them and answer their questions. It excites me to see the program working and to see the enthusiasm of people who want to set up a program in the place where they live.
TPRF: There are many charities that you could volunteer for. Why did you choose TPRF?
BW: I’ve always supported charities from a young age, particularly humanitarian causes and animal protection societies. I am passionate about the PEP. Having seen how it can transform the lives of people who have no self-esteem or hope, and who experience excruciating loneliness, it is so rewarding to be a very small part of implementing the program all over the world. TPRF is very different; whereas many causes show pictures of suffering to try to inspire giving, TPRF comes from a point of joy and compassion. TPRF doesn’t make people feel guilty about what’s happening in the world.
TPRF: Is there anything you particularly enjoy about being a volunteer with TPRF?
BW: When I’m serving this particular purpose, I end up feeling rewarded and not drained. I may only be doing a little, yet there is so much appreciation and respect. You don’t find that anywhere else. Everywhere else, you are made to feel your contribution doesn’t count unless you are moving mountains, going the extra mile and making superhuman efforts. Here, it’s the opposite, and of course that inspires me to want to give of my very best and do more. I’m 66 years old now and want to spend the remaining years of my life very carefully!