We are very grateful to Martin van Tonder for writing this letter about his reasons for volunteering, why he enjoys it and why he thinks you should volunteer too. Martin volunteers with the Failte Isteach English conversation classes in Monaghan Town as a tutor. 

"Dear volunteer,

I’m writing this letter to you on behalf of the Volunteer Centre in Monaghan. A couple of months ago I broke my wrist in a work accident and could not do much of anything. I was very bored at home and drove my wife crazy. I started looking for something to do, to keep my mind busy and negative thoughts away. Just so you know, I am an immigrant from South Africa and have been living in Ireland for the last year and 10 months. Back home, I used to volunteer at my local church and it gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Giving back to the community has always appealed to me and for this reason I contacted my local Volunteer Center in Monaghan. They were very helpful and we sat down and discussed what they had to offer and what skills I had to give. So knowing that I use to teach teenagers back home we decided that helping at the English conversation classes was the best option for me. I jumped right in!! The first Monday morning and night I went to St. Joseph Pastor Center and met all the leaders there. I sat down with a couple of teachers so they could show me the ropes. I had my first group the following week. 

Wow, what an experience it has been meeting all the people from different countries and with various heritage. From South Europe to Asia to Africa they were very keen to learn and practice their new language. It also just showed me that there are so many people in this town that just need to be heard and are craving some social interaction with people. I have noticed since I have been here that there are a lot of immigrants that spend their time in isolation, and if by doing this I give someone the courage and hope that they can have a social life outside their work place it will have made my heart jump with joy.  Truly I tell you if you have the time and are able please get into contact with your local volunteer center, as they need all the help they can get!

Kind Regards 

Martin van Tonder" 



Monaghan Volunteer Centre staff are available to meet anyone interested in volunteering at Carrickmacross Library from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm on the second Monday of each month. Drop in to find out more about volunteering and what volunteer roles are available near you. If you like, you can even register with us while you're there. 


Monaghan Volunteer Centre staff member Sinéad Keenan and local volunteer Carmel McArdle recently spoke at the National Volunteer Management Conference. The conference is an annual event organised by Volunteer Ireland and this year it took place at the Marino Institute of Education in Dublin. Speakers at the conference included Minister Séan Canney and Volunteer Ireland CEO Ms Nina Arwitz. 

Sinéad and Carmel took part in a panel discussion on the importance of finding the right match between a volunteer and a voluntary organisation. Also included in the discussion were volunteer managers from Alone and St. Francis’ Hospice. Carmel described how she visited Monaghan Volunteer Centre after she retired. She wanted to volunteer in a primary school, having volunteered in a secondary school in the past. The Volunteer Centre did not have any volunteer roles with schools available but Sinéad contacted a couple of local schools and explained Carmel’s interest and experience.  

One of the schools was interested and the principal and infant teacher met with Carmel and discussed what she could do. Within a few months of first visiting Monaghan Volunteer Centre, Carmel had started volunteering in the school. Carmel is really enjoying her volunteering and plans to continue it long term. Having an extra adult available for part of the week allows the infant teacher to do extra activities such as taking the children on nature walks. 

Asked by Amy Woods of Volunteer Ireland for advice to organisations thinking of involving volunteers, Sinéad suggested that any voluntary organisation with a volunteer role should contact their local Volunteer Centre, even if they are not sure the role will be popular. It is difficult to predict the roles that volunteers might be interested in getting involved with. The Volunteer Centre is a free service and meets a wide range of potential volunteers.  

Also at the conference were Sinéad’s colleague Grace Sherry and Marina McKenna. Marina is the coordinator of Befriending Monaghan and Helping Hands projects, both of which support older people.  Befriending Monaghan volunteers visit older people once a week to provide company and conversation. Helping Hands volunteers do small odd jobs and repairs for older people and people with disabilities. Both services are free of charge. Marina would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in using either service. You can contact Marina at 087 0656793 (Monday to Wednesday) or   or read more at MID Services for Older People

If you are interested in volunteering or finding new volunteers for your non-profit organsiation please contact Grace Sherry or Sinéad Keenan at 047 72191 or   or visit www.volunteermonaghan.ie 

The Volunteer Centre, Helping Hands and Befriending Monaghan are part of the range of programmes delivered by Monaghan Integrated Development (MID) within Co Monaghan. For more information on MID visit www.midl.ie or contact 042 9749500.