Volunteering ‘the biggest joy’

April 10 to 16 is National Volunteer Week and we are sharing stories from just a few of the thousands of volunteers who work with United Way and our agency partners. Thank you to all volunteers, you grow love!

A few years ago Puneet Pannu found her way out of an abusive marriage with two children and no income. She drew strength from her dad and her faith, and continues to look for ways to illuminate her path.

“Everybody is going through some kind of a mess, and sometimes you don’t know how to go towards a positive direction.”

A positive direction for Puneet was revealed soon after she arrived in Winnipeg from her home in New Delhi, India, in January to spend time with her now adult children who attend school here.

Puneet Pannu at United Way, where she began volunteering in February.

Puneet Pannu at United Way, where she began volunteering in February.

She began volunteering for United Way Winnipeg – helping out the Community Involvement team – as well as at United Way agency partner Opportunities for Employment and the Global Welcome Centre, where she teaches English to immigrants. She has also done her volunteer orientation at Siloam Mission and plans to help with a United Way Living on the Edge poverty simulation to educate people about the challenge of living on a low income.

“It’s emotionally fulfilling,” she says of being a volunteer.

“If you’re feeling low it fills you up, and for somebody to appreciate you is the biggest joy.”

Puneet speaks of finding balance – feeling herself becoming more stable and accepted – through her volunteerism.

“You all are not realizing how you are making me feel…I’m actually feeling more worthy of myself.”

The act of volunteering – of helping others become better – is transformative, Puneet says.

“You will bloom if you help others to bloom.”

She is “meeting people, learning new stuff, and learning about your culture,” which is helping her feel independent and “like I’m standing on my own feet.”

When asked if she’d like to share her thoughts about volunteering Puneet phoned her sister in New Delhi.

“I said to her, ‘can you imagine, me, in a story. Somebody wants to write a story about me. Again, you make me feel worthwhile.”

Puneet says she has learned to “get up after every fall,” and keep facing that positive direction.

“Volunteering is not a job, it’s a journey within.”