Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Paul Linossier has paid tribute to the thousands of volunteers who serve across the Uniting network in Victoria and Tasmania as the community service organisation celebrates National Volunteer Week.
From mentoring artists with a disability to sorting donated goods at emergency relief centres, Uniting volunteers contribute in a variety of ways to make a positive impact in their community.
Mr Linossier thanked the 3000 volunteers who utilise their skills to support Uniting’s 770 community programs.
“Every day, volunteers generously give time to support the programs and services of Uniting,” he said.
“This week we recognise and celebrate their contributions and the over 3000 other individuals who make it possible for Uniting to deliver the comprehensive level of support and services that we do.
“In standing with those who live life at the margins, by strengthening our communities and by speaking out, they help to create a more just society.’
Following her retirement as an occupational therapist, Faye decided she would continue supporting her local community by helping migrants adjust to life in Australia.
She began volunteering at Uniting’s Through the Looking Glass program, which offers parenting support and a playgroup for newly arrived refugees in Shepparton.
“We live in a rural city where people have migrated here for many generations,” Faye said.
“If we don’t find ways to interact and support one another, we’re at risk of alienating and isolating those new to our area.”
Volunteering also enables Faye to live out her faith, especially Jesus’ call to offer hospitality to the stranger.
“I’m a follower of Jesus and He speaks about welcoming the foreigner in the land,” Faye said.
“I lived in another country briefly and it really made a difference when someone helped me understand the culture and language.
“We work on English together, and talk about all sorts of things, like the difference in schooling systems, but also just the day-to-day life of parenting in Australia.
“Watching the women become more confident and having a go, it’s great when you can support that.”
Uniting Vic.Tas project coordinator Denise Duncan said volunteers such as Faye make a significant contribution.
“That one-on-one support that Faye helps us to deliver is so valuable, particularly for a program like Through the Looking Glass,” Ms Duncan said.
“They’re able to give intensive support, build relationships, provide knowledge – real life knowledge too, and lived experience. Faye has just been such an asset to our team, a genuine Godsend!”
National Volunteer Week runs from 21-27 May.