GIVE HAPPY, LIVE HAPPY

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By Lisa Field

“I was looking for somewhere I could do a couple of days a week volunteering and I was really happy to discover Gateway Community Services in South Kingsville, who are close to my home” recalls Lucy. “Aside from the convenience, I love the people, it’s not a chore to go there, and everyone makes you feel welcome.”

There’s plenty to consider when you want to take up volunteering, such as your time availability, the location of the organisation, what skills you have to offer, what support or training is available and what recognition the organisation provides. Successful and lasting volunteering positions need to be beneficial for both the individual and the organisation.

When it becomes so much more

Altona North resident, Ray recalls when he got his “don’t come back” notice from his long-term employer, he needed to do some volunteering. A friend suggested Gateway and he went down and met with the manager. Ray remained there for 15 years, and also volunteered with Meals on Wheels for 10 years.

When Spotswood resident Pam retired, she really did not know how to fill in all of her spare time and felt housebound. Her brother suggested a course at South Kingsville Community Centre, and that led to her doing a day’s placement with Gateway’s Flexi Friends Program. “When I first commenced, the other volunteers all made me feel welcome. I remember on the first day, we had fish ‘n chips and went on an outing. It was lovely for everyone involved.”

Support and recognition

 Retaining and supporting volunteers is determined by several factors including the need for recognition. This year during National Volunteers Week 9 – 15 May, Gateway will celebrate its volunteers at a celebration at Williamstown’s RSL.  Guest speakers include Hobsons Bay Councillor and Deputy Mayor, Sandra Wilson, who will join the 80+ Gateway volunteers. As a former Coordinator of Volunteers at Gateway, Sandra will reflect on how volunteers are the backbone of our community. Cr Sandra Wilson credits the organisation’s strong volunteer culture for being both welcoming and structured in their support and recognition.

Gateway Community Services are now recruiting volunteers. Please call Fatima Milhem, Volunteer Coordinator between Monday to Wednesday on 9399 3511 to discuss your interests, availability and vacancies within their range of community development, social support, seniors register, emergency food relief, community transport and disability respite programs.

Check out www.gatewaycommunityservices.org.au and www.facebook.com/gatewaysupport for more details.

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