Walk In As A Giver, Walk Out As A Taker | Alex Calanca, Swire Trust Go-Givers of 2022

Together with Time Auction, the Swire Trust Go-Givers Program encourages skilled volunteers for Swire Trust NGO partners from 2020 to 2022. 10 outstanding volunteers will be selected annually as the “Swire Trust Go-Givers of the Year” with special rewards & recognition. Meet our 10 Go-Givers of 2022!

Alex Calanca Blogpost Image

Meet Alex

When Alex Calanca moved to Hong Kong six years ago, he never imagined that he would be “working” all day long: as a banker during the day, then as a volunteer at night. While the former is undeniably gainful, the rewards from the latter are even more significant - it’s priceless.

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Alex as a volunteer for Feeding Hong Kong

From giving…

When Alex first considered volunteering, he was simply looking for a fruitful and meaningful way to use his time after work. Unfortunately, he struggled to find opportunities because he doesn’t speak Cantonese. However, this language barrier did not stop Alex from searching proactively, and with his unwavering determination, he found some great opportunities. For example, volunteering at a food bank, an LGBT+ group, cultural institutions as a tour docent, and a rugby club as an executive committee member.

These valuable experiences broadened Alex’s horizons and deepened his understanding of Hong Kong. They offered him a chance to look through the lens of people from different socio-economic classes, lifestyles, and values, all of which coexist simultaneously in Hong Kong. 

Having been awed by the beautifully interconnected fabric of Hong Kong, he wished to further contribute to the kindhearted NGOs that weave these threads together. Therefore, he sought to volunteer in an NGO that helps NGOs. On Time Auction’s platform, he found his perfect match: volunteering as an article copywriter for Asian Charity Services (ACS), which offers strategic management advice for small- to medium-sized NGOs.

In that position, Alex wrote ten articles for ACS’s “Get to Know Charities” series, which was posted on social media to promote emerging NGOs in Hong Kong. Through the ink streaming from his pen, Alex was not merely helping one specific beneficiary but actually assisting many NGOs to help many people. With the awareness raised being compounded, the positive impact made becomes unbounded.

…to taking…

Often, such genuine acts of kindness are returned in unexpected ways. To begin, Alex developed an extremely pleasant relationship with ACS, whose Assistant Program Manager, Amanda Tse, praised that “Alex has a passionate heart to serve the Hong Kong community. He was very committed, responsible, open-minded and…very easy [for us] to communicate our needs to him, and he always looked for feedback to further improve his work.” Their collaboration was so enjoyable for both ends that they continued working together, this time in ACS’s Community Outreach Team, which meets with different NGOs regularly to hear their stories and see how they could be supported. 

Once again, this unanticipated experience amazed Alex with what volunteering could offer. “It’s not just giving your time and resources,” he reflected.

“It’s a much bigger picture and involves so many more people, so it’s definitely a networking opportunity because it puts you in contact with donors, with founders, with beneficiaries, and with other volunteers.”

In addition to making connections, Alex also gave a long list of pros for volunteering, including improving a wide variety of skills, interacting with people from different backgrounds, and getting a better picture of society.

Of course, there are also concrete benefits. For example, redeeming - through Time Auction’s platform - a valuable opportunity to meet with celebrity Nancy Sit, whose gathering was “one of the highlights of my stay in Hong Kong”, as described by Alex.

There is also the ​​Swire Trust Go-Givers of the Year award this year. For Alex, this is an unforeseen addition to his advantages-of-volunteering list because “you don’t volunteer for the award; you volunteer because you want to.” While being delightfully surprised by this award, Alex thinks its significance lies not just in recognizing what he did in the past but, more importantly, in fueling what he will do in the future.

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Alex volunteering for the Bread Run at Feeding Hong Kong

…and now it’s your turn!

Since there is so much to take from volunteering, what kind of mindset should we have to get the most out of it? Alex advised us to go back to basics: “Ultimately, you're going to do something good, you’re in good faith, and you walk in with the best intention. Usually, best intentions are rewarded.”

With our minds now focused on the sincere wish to do good, what exactly should we do? His tip is to start small: “You start with a task that is given or the project that is set up, but then, like in my case with ACS, it can lead up to much more: to contribute to other projects, to open new doors, and to be given new opportunities.”

Essentially, in volunteering, “the best way to approach it is to keep an open mind and be prepared to receive a lot more than you expect.” Now, are you ready to join us?


Thank you so much to Alex for contributing 40 volunteer hours & beyond at Asian Charity Services!

To see details of the Swire Trust Go-Givers Program and support their NGO partners, head over to Time Auction website.

Written by Margaret Ng, Volunteer Copywriter

Updated on 2 November, 2022
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