21 May Volunteer opportunities: why you should consider volunteering with Uniting
National Volunteer Week is the perfect time to celebrate the wonderful work our Uniting volunteers do in services across NSW and ACT each and every day.
From running play groups and leading pastoral care programs, to volunteering in our corporate offices and hosting recreational activities in our aged care homes – our volunteers truly are the heart of Uniting. Some have been with us for over 45 years!
What makes a good volunteer?
You may be surprised to hear about the different kinds of volunteering roles available at Uniting. Some people come to share their artistic skills, or to lend a much-needed listening ear for someone who’s lonely. Others come because they are technology minded and can help wrangle spreadsheets into shape. What this means is that no matter the skills you bring to the table, there’s likely to be a place for you at Uniting.
“A lot of people don’t think they have the skills that are necessary for volunteering,” reflects Uniting volunteer John.
“What makes a good volunteer is someone willing to listen, who doesn’t have their own agenda and someone who turns up each week when they promised to.
“All you have to be able to do is sit down and say ‘hello’ to someone and 99% of the time the conversation will go from there,” he says.
Being a friend – volunteering in aged care
Watch volunteers Rosanna, Fei and John – and their resident friends – talk about volunteering at Uniting aged care homes.
Being a playmate – volunteering in children’s services
59-year-old grandmother Glenda Rose volunteers with the Uniting Play Café on the Central Coast two mornings a week. She’s been volunteering for four years and says she has found friendships that will last a lifetime.
“My husband passed away in 2015 after a short, but hard-fought battle against cancer,” Glenda reflects. “I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with myself and volunteering was suggested to me.
Glenda says she initially jumped on a volunteering site looking for roles in aged care when she came across Uniting.
“I went along for my interview with Uniting and – after hearing what a proud Mum and Grandmother I am and that I spend a lot of time with my four young grandchildren – the lovely ladies I met encouraged me to try the play group,” she remembers.
“It turned out to be the perfect fit for me. Apart from the wonderful women I have met and worked with from Uniting who are more than just work mates – I can honestly say they are my dear friends. I’ve made a whole new group of friends,” she says.
“In particular, I’ve made friends with two wonderful women who volunteer the same days as me, and I know our friendships will last forever.”
And it’s not just her fellow volunteers who Glenda has bonded closely with.
“I’ve met many lovely mums – plus a few dads – who come to the group with their children,” she says.
“I’ve seen a few of the regular children grow from two years of age to now going to ‘big school’ and feel very close to them all. Also, the feedback and appreciation from the mums and the kids themselves is so rewarding.
“I think my favourite time of the year is December when we make lots of Christmas crafts and then it culminates in our annual Christmas party which the kids enjoy so much. There’s always a few we farewell at the end of the year, but then new families join after the holidays and there’s a whole new group to get to know.
Earlier this year Glenda’s great work was recognised and she became a finalist in the Uniting Heart Awards – an annual award where outstanding Uniting workers are nominated by their fellow co-workers.
“I feel very lucky to have found this position – or in truth I should say it sort of found me! I value the friendships I have made and would recommend volunteering to anyone who has time on their hands and would like to meet new people and become a part of a wonderful community,” says Glenda.
Being an office mate – volunteering in our corporate offices
Jordan Wood came to Uniting as a work experience volunteer working with the Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD) team in our head office.
“I’ve always been interested in people’s differences and what makes them click,” Jordan reflects.
“I studied journalism at university and majored in Islam-West relations. Then, in my second year I did a six-month placement in Morocco.”
After graduating, Jordan moved to Sydney from Queensland hoping to find work in cultural diversity and wound up finding work experience with Uniting.
“I volunteered with Uniting for about two and a half months,” she remembers. “My favourite part was getting to talk to CALD people.”
“Initially I shadowed the team and then got involved with a few projects aimed at providing CALD people within the Uniting community with a platform for their voice and access to information.”
“I got to look at our translation policy and even got to interview some of our clients for a Harmony Day blog story,” she says.
“I’ve since picked up a three-month paid contract role with Uniting. I’m doing similar things to what I did in my volunteer role, but I feel much more knowledgeable, confident and empowered because I volunteered first.”
For Jordan, the benefits of her volunteering experience go beyond her professional development.
“I feel a lot more confident in general now,” she reflects.
“I have more confidence in myself, I know when to do things and sometimes when not to and just listen, the team have been very patient and supportive.”
Jordan says she would definitely encourage people to consider volunteering in a corporate role.
“Volunteers can give non-profits some breathing space and more time to do the complex work. It means we can achieve more as an organisation.
“For people who don’t feel it’s worth it… it definitely is. Although you don’t get paid, you learn so much, meet great people and ‘earn’ so much from volunteering.”
Happy National Volunteer Week to all of our Uniting volunteers.