To tie in with National Volunteers Week, we asked long standing office volunteer, Anthony Belderbos, on his experiences working with CAFOD.
Jack: How long have you been a volunteer?
Anthony: Since the middle of 1997. Thirteen years ago! Time flies!
J: What made you want to become one?
A: I had retired in February 1995 and had been on and off involved with CAFOD, but to no great extent. Then the diocesan office moved here to Rearsby Convent, and one morning at mass the sisters mentioned that CAFOD was holding an open morning. I called in and a few weeks later I joined as a volunteer, based in the office. It was just at the time of the launch of Challenge 2000 and Tony Gariff asked me to take it on board. One started learning fast! It was to be a very worthwhile experience and is the perfect role for someone just retired, particularly as there was something very definite to be done.
J: How much time a week do you give to CAFOD?
A: I think that the initial arrangement was to give one day a week to CAFOD. However, living only just a mile from home in Thrussington, one found oneself dropping in whenever it was necessary. One was left to one’s own initiative and initially, with Challenge 2000, it did take up quite some time. The role that I played was very motivating and interesting. I was involved in attending deanery meetings, speaking at masses, giving presentations and visiting Brixton for planning meetings.
J: What happens on a typical day?
A: There is much happening in a CAFOD diocesan office, very much involving communication with parishes, schools and contacts. One is given different tasks to help with the effectiveness of CAFOD’s work. Recently, this has been organising speakers to visit parishes at the time of the Lent and Harvest Fast days. I feel that one of the most pleasing roles is speaking at masses. Then help is needed in the launch of new projects, the current one being Connect 2. A no less important responsibility is the chasing up of email addresses of parishes and contacts, to help with communication
J: What has been the most memorable experience so far?
A: This has to be a three-week visit with a CAFOD group to Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Millennium Commission had granted CAFOD funds to send teachers, youth leaders and volunteers overseas to visit CAFOD partners and see the result of CAFOD’s work for those in real need. One could not have been given more valuable experience at the start of a retirement career. It was education and focused you on CAFOD’s role as an overseas development agency and continues to be a great help as a volunteer.
Working for CAFOD is satisfying, as CAFOD is playing a very effective role as a Catholic development agency. And being part of CAFOD, you are putting your faith into practice “ad majorem dei gloriam”.
Have you ever thought of working for CAFOD?