One of the practices I learnt from my parents was the value of volunteering in the local community. They modeled their belief in faith and neighbourhood in action and commitment. My father was a life long member of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Geelong. As well as a weekly meeting, Dad looked after the management of Halstead Place, a hostel for rough sleepers. He also cared for the garden at our local parish Church and was a regular on the Meals on Wheels program.
My mother came from a family where commitment to school, church and community was ingrained as the way of living. As well as school Mothers Club and canteen rosters, Mum joined committees for the local parish and in later life, the management committee at her retirement village. As with many homemakers Mum also volunteered an amazing volume of cakes and goodies for fetes and fundraisers. When our family were sorting out finances after Mum’s death we discovered her incredible generosity to causes and campaigns that worked for the common good.
I inherited much of this understanding and commitment to volunteering. Some of my most treasured young memories are the days when my Dad would “dink me” on his bike to the hostel where he cooked and cared for rough sleepers.
On this National Volunteers Week I give thanks to those organisations that have provided me with opportunities to “Give a Little and Change a Lot” The change has been in my outlook and understanding of the world and how we work together to build community.
At 68 years old I look back with gratitude to the groups and communities that provided volunteering experience and life long learning for me:
- The Young ALP in Geelong
- St John’s Ambulance
- St Vincent de Paul Society
- Collingwood CYSS
- Catholics for Peace
- Palms Australia
- Friends of the ABC
- Brisbane Festival
- Annerley Community Bookshop
- Brisbane Writers Festival
- Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Archdiocese of Brisbane
- L’Arche Brisbane
- Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group
- Australian Catholics for Equality Advisory Board
As well as groups and associations I have been able to volunteer my services as a photographer to friends and public events as a citizen journalist. This is a role where I am able to us m y images to challenge social exclusion, prejudice and injustice.
As I begin a new era as a senior citizen I have taken up membership of advocacy groups for my generation.
My hope is to continue to volunteer for my community and causes that promote social change. I hope that through my volunteering at this stage of life I can mentor a new generation of awareness and commitment.