Homebuilders – Encouraging volunteers

By Quentin Jukes

What would we do without volunteers? Our community is full of fantastic people who offer their time, energy and skills to be of support to others. Volunteers are the backbone of most not-for-profit organisations and are essential to the success, and sometimes existence of, these organisations.

In our work at the Homebuilders Family Centre, we are lucky to see first-hand the generosity of spirit offered by so many people in our community. For example, in the last week we have had two stunning patchwork quilts and two different gifts of knitted booties, baby clothes and blankets donated for local families. In the last week, the local volunteer-run Foodbank (see story p1) has also been able to offer eight different families we are working alongside a much needed food parcel to ‘get them through’. Our volunteer gardener has been in to plant up another batch of veggies for people to help themselves to. We have had donations of fruit, our Op Shop is run by a great team of volunteers and we have been referring families to the local volunteer run budget service.

Meanwhile, in other parts of our community, volunteer fire fighters and St John Ambulance crews have been out dealing with emergencies, sports coaches have been giving up their evenings and weekends, and a large group of ‘reader-writers’ have given up their time to work in schools and provide extra support to children who need it. Parents and community representatives give time and energy out of their lives to be on school Board of Trustees

Sadly, the true value of what is offered by volunteers is not well recognised in our society. A sports coach teaching 10-year-olds how to play netball is offering a lot more than just a list of practical skills, such as how to pass or shoot the ball. They are also creating a place where children build confidence and a sense of belonging, an understanding of what fair play is, which helps provide a broader sense of community.As increasing numbers of people struggle to make ends meet and are sometimes working two, three and even four jobs to survive, and finding people willing and able to volunteer is becoming increasingly hard. Let’s all play a role in valuing the people who fill these crucial, unwaged roles. Without their contribution, we would all be that much poorer.