Give Happy, Live Happy

National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. The Diocese and Samaritans have taken the time to celebrate and recognise the contribution of some of our amazing volunteers.

Thank you to all our amazing and dedicated volunteers across the diocese.

Margaret-Letherbarrow-2Meet Margaret!

Margaret volunteers at Samaritans Retail Store in Hamilton. Samaritans retail stores, also located in Mayfield and Wallsend, provide pre-loved clothing and other items at affordable prices. The stores rely on donations from the community and the kindness of volunteers, like Margaret, who give up their time to help.

As a volunteer Margaret’s duties include unpacking and sorting donations such as clothes, linen, books and bric-a-brac, and organising the display of the goods. Samaritans Retail Store welcomes a variety of customers through its doors, whether it’s a family in need looking for affordable clothing or someone wanting to make a donation. Margaret’s friendly nature makes every customer feel comfortable as she helps them find what they are looking for.

With a background in fashion, working at a Retail Store appealed to Margaret, as well as the idea of doing something meaningful with her spare time.

“After turning 60 years old and teaching fashion for 40 years, I had a few years of catching up with friends, luncheons, reading, sewing, movies and babysitting the grandchildren. I realised that I was looking for something more to fill my days,” Margaret said.

When asked why she chooses to volunteer, Margaret explained, “I wanted to give back to the community. I enjoy everything I do at Samaritans. It’s a fun day so the time passes so quickly.” Margaret especially enjoys the interaction and friendship she has formed with the other volunteers.

Margaret describes her fondest experiences as a volunteer with Samaritans Retail Store as the friendship, fun, laughter and variety of jobs to do each day.

Margaret’s commitment to her role certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.

“Margaret is an asset to our Hamilton shop. She goes above and beyond in her duties and is friendly, happy and hardworking volunteer,” Samaritans Retail Co-ordinator, Pauline Sellers said.

Helen-EdwardsMeet Helen!

Helen takes on multiple volunteer roles at Samaritans, with a primary focus on Disaster Recovery as a Team Co-ordinator. Over her 10 years as a volunteer with Samaritans her roles have included working for; Kinship Care, a program supporting grandparents who are raising their grandchildren; The Toy Warehouse, which supports families with free toys for their children at Christmas time; and representing Samaritans through Parish Links.

After retiring from a career in health services Helen felt a desire to fill her spare time in an area where she could contribute her expertise, so she joined Samaritans Disaster Recovery team. Samaritans is one of a number of government and non-government organisations working together to provide an effective and co-ordinated response when major emergencies occur. Local groups of trained volunteers play a vital role in practical care and assistance to those affected by disasters.

Helen’s role also includes assisting with administration and training to heighten the understanding of emergency management and disaster recovery in the community. Working in Disaster Recovery Helen is very generous with her time and always prepared to take on a full time work load when emergencies do occur.

As a passionate advocate for social justice, Helen describes how she simply likes to volunteer so that she can help people. A key moment that stands out for Helen was when she assisted in the Evacuation centres during floods, providing hands-on support.

“You see people in really traumatic circumstances for various reasons and you are there to try and assist them through that. It gives you a sense of achievement being part of the solution and doing what you are trained to do,” Helen said.

Another key reason Helen has continued her volunteer work for over 10 years is because of the valuable interactions and connections she has formed.

“The people that you meet- that’s really a major part of it – both co-volunteers and the people we assist. You do develop a lot of good friendships amongst the volunteers,” she said. Helen recommends volunteering to anyone who is looking for some worthwhile work once they have retired from the paid work force.

james-ryan-samaritansMeet James!

James volunteers with Samaritans Assistance Centre in Broadmeadow. Designed to be a one stop shop the Assistance Centre provides emergency relief, case work, financial counselling and outreach services to ensure that people in need receive the right assistance.

James has always been a very caring person and was inspired to become a volunteer so that he could use this quality to make an impact. He was also looking to gain experience and references to help with job seeking and volunteering is a great way to achieve this. He has been a volunteer with Samaritans for over seven years, previously volunteering with Samaritans post-release program before taking on a role at the Assistance Centre to help a wider range of community members.

James volunteers two shifts a week, and is certainly kept busy with a variety of tasks such as receiving phone calls, booking appointments and conducting Emergency Relief interviews. When someone comes to the Centre seeking assistance James provides a listening ear and connects them with the appropriate support service, such as financial counselling or a case worker. “Sometimes people just need to talk, tell their story and they need someone to listen,” James said.

Another part of James’ role is to provide a clear pathway of solutions for people who can’t see a way out of their situation. James recalls one of his special memories as a volunteer was the opportunity to help a woman who had come to the Centre to seek support as she faced eviction. James assisted her to connect with a Tenancy Advocacy and Advice service to obtain representation at the Tribunal. Consequently he was able to prevent eviction. “On other occasions I have been able to really help people by negotiating with companies on their behalf to reduce financial stress and reconnect utilities,” James said.

“I would recommend volunteering to others, the feeling that you get when you give back is indescribable,” he said.


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