I'm a Volunteer!

11.04.13 02:20 AM By Kartheeban Chandramohan

First of all, I would like to thank each and every volunteer for the selfless service they provided for the past 6 years through team Everest.

Happy to share that I got ‘ivolunteer Hero -2012’ award organized by an NGO called ivolunteer. The motive behind this award ceremony is to celebrate, reward and promote volunteering in India. The ivolunteer team believes that by promoting volunteers and NGO’s, we can bring a volunteering revolution in our country. This is the first ever iVolunteer award ceremony conducted.

Let me take you through the process of selecting the winners. Nominations are received in two categories

  1. Leader in volunteer engagement award
  2. Volunteer hero award

We nominated ' Team Everest' for Leader in volunteer engagement and my name was nominated for ' Volunteer Hero' award.

There was a public voting through which we got qualified into top - 10 on both the categories.

The winners were selected by a jury panel comprised of:

1) Dhaval Udani – CEO, Give India

2) Pushpa Aman Singh – CEO, Guide Star India

3) Sarath Divella – Country head, Lionbridge Technologies

4) Dr. Meena Galliara – Director, Jasani Center, NMIMS

5) Prerana Langa – CEO, YES Foundation

An event was organized in Mumbai on April -8th where actress Nandita Das was the guest of honour.

The ivolunteer team had arranged for travel and accommodation for the ten finalists from both the categories.

I had a lovely 25 hours train journey from Chennai to Mumbai. The event was organized in ‘Hotel Blue Sea Banquet, Worli’ and I had a great time with people who had similar thoughts on volunteering.

Mr Shalabh Sahai, Co-founder and director of iVolunteer gave a wonderful welcome address mentioning how ivolunteer team is trying to make volunteering a mainstream in the entire nation. He quoted a beautiful line where he told that we can make a country of billon people in to a country of billion volunteers. This is exactly the thought process of team Everest too.

Nadita Das, a well-known actress and a social activist gave an inspiring speech on the importance of volunteering, followed by the award presentation.

I received the ‘Volunteer Hero-2012 award and got a chance to speak for few minutes on stage.

I used this opportunity to talk about 12/365 – volunteer at least once a month and how volunteering can make a difference.

Thanks to the entire iVolunteer team who organized this beautiful event and gave chance to meet many inspiring people. They have really did a great job and it is a great first step to make the nation take notice of the volunteering work happening in our nation.

My way of looking at it:

I would like to share a small flashback which happened before this award. When I came to know about this ivolunteer awards I was little skeptical to apply for the awards, because we Team Everest do not believe in awards .That’s why we do not award anyone in Team Everest. Instead we only thank them.

During our Everest anniversaries which happen every October we give thank you memento and thank you card for our volunteers. That’s why they are called ‘Thanks from the heart’ and ‘12/365’ thank you card.

I personally believe that if we get a chance to help others we should thank God for giving such an opportunity.

I feel that the entire world is ONE family. When we help a fellow family member do we think proud about it? NO!

First of all, we don’t even think it as a help. We believe that it’s our duty to support our family members. I feel the same way when I help a fellow human being. He/She is my family member. The entire world is one family. Why to get an award or recognition for it while actually you should feel thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity?

Having given my take on awards for social service, I always wanted the others advantages which any awards or recognition brings with it.

Let’s take a few examples in my life itself.

When a Tamil magazine ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’ published an article about Team Everest in 2009, 700 new volunteers joined the team in just 3 days’ time.

When I got the best person award by the same magazine in 2010, many schools and clubs invited me to give a speech in their organization which helped me spread awareness about volunteering.

When I got a chance to ring the NASDAQ bell along with the Cognizant CEO, many teams invited me to talk with their teammates and we got more than 500 volunteers through various team meetings.

Though I don’t like or hate any of these awards, I loved the other advantages which these awards or recognition brings in. If not for these awards, it is so tough to get an article published in media or giving a TV interview or getting inside a school or college and talk about volunteering to students. Awards or recognition open up such opportunities and many times they are bigger than the award itself.

With these thoughts, I was in double mind on whether to apply for the ivolunteer awards or not. When it comes to Team Everest it should be a team decision than not an individual decision. So during our monthly team meeting we discussed on whether to apply for these awards or not. After an hour long discussion we had a voting among the team members and decided to apply for the awards.

The option of attending ‘Points of Light’s conference’ at Washington D.C in June was also a big driving factor to apply for this award.

Team Everest is working to bring the concept of service learning to India by piloting it in 1 or 2 schools this  June. Team Everest will be the first NGO to bring the concept of service learning to India. The Points of Light team who is the organizer of the conference is involved in doing service learning activities in USA big way. Their guidance and support will help us implement Service Learning effectively in India.

And that’s how we applied and won one out of the two awards. Thanks again to iVolunteer team without which this is possible.

I request my friends not to call me a hero. I already see a few FB messages addressing me as Hero. Call me just ‘Karthee’ or as ‘Volunteer’ .

If you call me a ‘Hero’ while crossing you I may never turn back thinking that you are calling someone else.

Call me a volunteer I will say a ‘Hi’ with a big smile and will ask you ‘Shall we have a cup of coffee?’:)

I always want this world to remember me as a volunteer.

I may not have been a good Friend!

I may not have been a good Son!

I may not have been a good Brother!

But I always wanted to be a good volunteer!

When I die, this world should tell that there lived a great volunteer in India who inspired many to volunteer. If that happens I feel that the goal which I have set for myself has been achieved.

Having said whatever I want to tell I would like to end this blog post with my usual request.

Try volunteering!

Start volunteering at least once a month!

Follow 12/365!

We can make a difference!

We can make a better world to at least one person. By continuing to do it, we would have made the entire world a better place to live than what it is now.

Only volunteering has the power to do that!

Happy volunteering!

Note: I would like to dedicate this award to all the volunteers in this world who is making a difference every single day!