National Volunteer Week 2020: How one volunteer can make a difference
To celebrate National Volunteer Week 2020, we’re showcasing Community Grant recipient Home-Start, an organisation that supports families with young children – and couldn’t do it without the commitment and care of its volunteers.
Through our Community Grants program we’ve come across hundreds of amazing small organisations that make an enormous difference to Australians experiencing disadvantage. Often they operate on very limited resources but are able to achieve great outcomes because of the dedication of their volunteers.
Home-Start National Inc is one such organisation. Home-Start matches trained volunteers to families with young children to offer help and support. Parents may be isolated or suffering mental health issues, dealing with disabilities or living in poverty, overwhelmed with multiple young children or have escaped a domestic violence situation. Volunteers offer regular support, friendship and practical help to young families in their own homes, helping to prevent family crisis and breakdown.
How did a Community Grant help Home-Start?
Home-Start used its Sisters of Charity Foundation Community Grant to train a new batch of volunteers to send out into the community. Val from Home-Start provided us with an update after the volunteers graduated from their training program:
“It’s been pretty hectic getting all the volunteers matched up and happily visiting families. Finally they are all doing well and the families they are supporting are very happy and grateful to have their friendship and help every week. Their impact will continue on and be lifelong for the children, and some of the volunteers will continue to visit other families for years to come. Once we’ve trained and supported a volunteer, some remain with Home-Start for over 10 years!”
One volunteer’s impact: Sarah’s story
Sarah was a mum facing loneliness, major grief, postnatal depression, debilitating anxiety, self-harm, and feeling like a parenting failure. Sadly, her own mother passed away a few weeks after her first child was born. She had no siblings, extended family or in-laws to turn to for support.
“As the months passed, I had no older female in my life to guide me with parenting, to tell me if my baby was normal, if I was doing a good job, or even what I should be doing with him at home each day. I read Internet articles and books and tried to follow every single item of advice perfectly, lest I let my baby down. I began to believe I was doing such a poor job that my baby's future was ruined already with no chance of redemption. I self-harmed and thought about suicide. I apologised to my baby daily that he had such a poor mother,” Sarah recalls.
“My Home-Start volunteer is the older female in my life who has experience with children, and listens to my endless concerns, and assures me that my children are ok and I am doing the best I can. I can't describe how comforting it is to share the heavy load of child raising with someone who feels like family. Sometimes we just play with the kids, other times she helps me get to appointments. My Home-Start volunteer is a Godsend and I am incredibly grateful.”
National Volunteer Week 2020
18–24 May 2020 is National Volunteer Week, an annual celebration to reflect on the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers, without whose support organisations like Home-Start couldn’t operate.
To every Australian who volunteers their time to make their community a better place – no matter the cause – we want to say thank you. Let’s all work together to build a society where anyone who experiences disadvantage or social isolation can count on swift, practical and compassionate assistance.
How can you help?
If you’d like to support the Sisters of Charity Foundation and help fund grants that get volunteers trained and out into the community, you can make a donation here.
How we help
Each year we’re able to make a difference in the lives thousands of people across the country with funds generously donated by compassionate Australians. We support initiatives that focus on benefiting the disadvantaged, marginalised and socially isolated people in our community.