Cambridge Community Volunteer of the Month March: Maria Sofia Meirelles

 

Name: Maria Sofia Meirelles

Course: Masters in Graphic Design and Typography

Volunteer Role: Volunteer Centre Volunteer Hero, CLIC Sargent Fundraiser, Post Pals writer

 

"I enjoy the feeling of fulfillment. I'm really grateful for having the opportunity to make a difference and help other people"

 

 

What are your main duties and how do they benefit others?

When I volunteered as a Volunteer Hero, during the Free Rice Week, my main goal was to raise awareness to this online game and motivate the students to play and help gain rice to the World Food Program. Some weeks after I was again a Volunteer Hero, but this time during the Student Volunteer Week. This time my main goal was to motivate students to engage in doing volunteer work and also offer them free fruit as an act of kindness.

I also support two charities, the first one is Young Lives Against Cancer - CLIC Sargent, where I'm part of the fund-raising team. We work as a team to host and participate in events, with the objective to raise awareness and earn money to help young people that are battling cancer. The other charity is PostPals, I regularly write postcards and send them to children's who are very ill, it's something so easy to do and it can really brighten their day.

 

What have you enjoyed most about volunteering?

One of the things that I most enjoy is the feeling of fulfilment. I'm really grateful for having the opportunity to make a difference and help other people. I've also meet amazing people and had really good times while volunteering.

 

What skills have you learnt and used during your volunteering?

I've learnt and developed so many skills but the one that stand out the most are my communication skills. I've always been very shy and having to talk with people, for example, to promote the Free Rice game or during money collections for CLIC Sargent, helped me to be more communicative.

 

What inspires you to volunteer?

The feeling of knowing that I'm making a difference is what motivates me the most. In one of the bucket collections for CLIC Sargent there was an old lady that made a donation and then said that she lost her son at the age of 21, not through cancer but he was a young person. The way she said this I could notice it was something that she carried all her life. When I got home I started thinking about it and I was the same age as her son. Because I was there asking for donations I know I've helped parents to not lose their sons. Hearing stories like this also inspires me to do volunteer work.

 

What is your favourite volunteering memory?

One of my favourite events was the Cambridge Half Marathon, me and two other volunteers were cheering for CLIC Sargent runners. We all used pink tutus and had pink stars in our heads, it was so funny to cheer all the runners and see the look of happiness in their faces. There were two runners that I will never forget, one was a girl that when passed through us screamed that CLIC Sargent helped her during the worst years of her life. And the other one, was a very masculine guy with a big beard and a pink tutu like us, when he passed we screamed that he had a nice tutu and he just laughed.

 

Why do you love volunteering?

Volunteer work is something that makes me feel grateful for what I used to take for granted in life. I've always liked to help people and volunteer work allows me to do it. It's also a great way to develop my skills and meet amazing people.

 

What are your future career aspirations?

In September I will finish my Master in Graphic Design and Typography, so my future career will be in this field. Most recently I've been working in some illustrations for the kids t-shirts of CLIC Sargent and in the design of PIF Gift Vouchers leaflets. Also the post cards I make for PostPals are a great away for me to practise my calligraphy. These opportunities contributed to my work experience in the area and to my portfolio. I would love to work as a graphic designer for a charity or simply continue to support them in what I'm good at.

 

Do you have any last thoughts or comments?

I just wanna thank the Students' Union and the Volunteer Centre for helping me get engaged into doing volunteer work. Even though my master finishes in September I will continue doing volunteer work.