“I have faith in nice people and in what nice people can do.”

Wednesday March 2nd 2016

My name is Aoífe, I’m from a tiny village called Kerrykeel in Co. Donegal. I’m 21 years old and I’m in my 3rd year of a four year Psychology degree in DCU.

I also have a part-time job working in Easons in Letterkenny. And I love working in retail. That’s a lie.

I’ve worked in Easons for five and a half years now and one thing it has taught me is that I really really like nice people. Because often enough you meet people who aren’t very nice. And I’m the type of person who takes things very personally. You’d think I’d have learned better in five and a half years but apparently not. So if someone comes into the shop and isn’t very nice, that can ruin my day. But at the same time, it makes you extra thankful for the nice people.

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Sometimes people don’t like to be called “nice”. It’s not exciting or exotic enough. But you know when you meet someone and you come away from that encounter thinking “You know what, he or she is just a really nice person”. Why is it that we think that? It’s because of how they make us feel. A nice person touches us. They have this ability to make us feel important, appreciated and that that moment spent talking to us was worthwhile and added a flavour of something wonderful to their day. It’s something barely tangible, difficult to put into words but it fills you up. Because we all just want to feel appreciated. And such a warm encounter is what allows us to love ourselves that little bit more. You think to yourself “Oh that person took time out of their day for me. But I didn’t do anything. I just stood and spoke to them. I was just me. Looks like I must be doing something right.” So, you see, we begin to realise that we’re loved just as we are, that we don’t need to do any more than simply be ourselves. And, to that nice person, no amount of money, makeup, designer labels or status makes any difference.

Let’s think for a minute about how powerful that is. That’s all it takes. Just that magical encounter, no matter how brief. It might just be a simple hello and a smile, it might be someone asking how you’re doing, it might just be the offer of a helping hand. But, as I said, it can allow us to love ourselves that little bit more. And that’s why I think the world of nice people.

So imagine one of those wonderful moments 27 times in a row. 27 people who know nothing about you but appreciate you simply because you are you. They spend time with you, speak to you, listen to you, want to help you. That one moment in itself is powerful. So imagine it with 27 different people, multiple times a day, for 5 consecutive days.

In my eyes, that’s what camp is like. The 27ish volunteers who make camp happen are there because they want to give the Campettes that feeling- to show them how loved they are and just how much they have to offer. To give them that “I must be doing something right” feeling over and over again. Someone once said to me, “God wants you to win”. That’s what we want for our Campettes. To help them to realise their potential and to take advantage of that special quality within.

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And getting the opportunity to do that is one that I can only describe as a privilege. I firmy believe that Michaela Foundation is part of God’s plan for the youth of our country. I have every confidence in saying that I speak for each and every volunteer when I say that we feel blessed to play our part in this remarkable journey. It truly is the best feeling in the world seeing these little hearts soar and watching these beautiful souls blossom.

And that’s because it works both ways. But instead of the appreciation of 27 people, volunteers experience the raw love, kindness and gratitude of eighty campettes. Eighty. Not to mention the other volunteers and the parents. And that’s not why we’re there but yeah, we like to feel loved too.  So when a campette tells you your activity was the highlight of their day or you see that shy campette shooting a smile in your direction, you are filled up too.

When you begin volunteering with Michaela Foundation you catch a bug and suddenly you’re hooked. For me personally, it’s allowed me to meet some of the best people I know. It’s given me memories that I will cherish forever. Most of all, it’s given me faith. I have faith in nice people and in what nice people can do. I read somewhere “Faith allows things to happen. It is the power that comes from a fearless heart. And when I fearless heart believes, miracles happen.” That says it all really.

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