Volunteers' Week: Why Volunteer?

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Posted 6th June 2019

Why Volunteer?

Lauren Hall and Anne Churchill-Smith

As Visitor Services Assistant at Watts Gallery – Artists' Village, part of my role is to look after our community of volunteers. For me, the value of volunteering is huge: among the benefits I have noticed are that volunteering can act as a starting point for building stronger communities and accepting each other's differences.

Through volunteering, we meet people who are different to us – they come from different places and hold different views – but we can meet together on common ground. Through a mutual interest in art or history, architecture, or place, we can start to focus on what brings us together rather than what separates us.
In my experiences of working with volunteers at Watts Gallery – Artists' Village, I have come to know people who I would never otherwise have met, members of the public and volunteers alike. Part of this has meant that I've learnt how – by sharing and talking and listening to others – we can always find something in common.
This is the joy that volunteering can have, for us as individuals and communities. We can start to form connections to others based on what brings us together and, as a result, what makes us different seems so much smaller.

Anne Churchill-Smith recalls a memorable visitor...

On my very first day as a volunteer, at the Gallery at Watts I welcomed a very large and boisterous gentleman at the door.
“Is this your first visit to Watts Gallery?" I asked.
“It sure is ma'am," he replied.
“And have you come far?"
“Houston, Texas," he answered!!
I went on to suggest that he should not leave without seeing the Chapel.
“Not another of your little English Chapels," he replied. “I have seen enough of those to last me a lifetime."
“I don't think you have ever seen one quite like ours," I said.
One hour later, he returned to thank me.
“You were absolutely right. I have been all over the world and never seen anything quite so special as the Watts Memorial Chapel."