For nearly 50 years, Family Life has thrived on the dedication of our volunteers. People of different backgrounds, experiences and interests come to us weekly to find out how they can contribute and start giving back to their community.
One of the many joys for the Family Life team is seeing former clients return to volunteer with us. To them, being able to support the community that supported them is a satisfying experience; one that is rewarding and reflective of their own journey with the organisation.
A Family Touched by Family Life
As a child, Ezana saw the powerful influence that volunteers had to change and improve the lives of those around them. His first introduction to Family Life was when his mother Workuha found support from our organisation when feeling isolated and overwhelmed while raising her then-young family alone, having recently migrated to Australia. Meanwhile, Ezana’s introduction to Family Life Patron, Dr Roger Riordan led to a high school scholarship, setting his education on a new trajectory.
In the following years, Workuha, like other former clients, returned to Family Life to volunteer her support to other families in a similar situation as her. These two influences have shaped Ezana’s perspective on giving and volunteering. “That’s just something that’s been a constant,” he says. “To help out when you can, and you receive help when it’s your turn… I definitely wouldn’t be working here if it weren’t for Mum. Seeing her volunteer, putting her time aside, even though she didn’t have a lot to spare, was definitely inspiring. I owe a lot to her.”
Ezana’s Path to Working for Family Life
While the benefits of volunteering are obvious for the overall cause being supported, volunteers themselves often find multiple benefits in their own lives. In Ezana’s case, with his mother’s encouragement, he began volunteering in an IT role at Family Life right after graduating from university.
“As a volunteer, I was doing work directly related to my degree. But I was also picking up general employment skills – corporate culture, email etiquette, all those kinds of things – that would be helpful experience in any job,” Ezana says. “It’s an easy way to just get out there, build up some skills, get used to an adult work environment and just get started.”
And in comparison to a traditional corporate internship, “It’s a lot less competitive, and people are always happy to have your help… Even if you’re working in IT support and helping people getting their emails working again, you see how that affects the whole organisation. If I help someone get their computer sorted, then they can do all the social work that they need to do.”
For Ezana, his volunteering stint did provide him with the work experience to find full-time employment – with Family Life!
Benefits of Volunteering
Family Life Volunteer Coordinator Marilyn Ellis agrees that volunteering has a great impact on the overall wellbeing of the volunteer. “They get a strong sense of belonging – and if they’ve been isolated, or feeling low after being out of the workforce, this can be really protective.”
It’s also an opportunity to connect with people from different walks of life who may not have otherwise met, Marilyn says. “A lot of our volunteers have had different kinds of jobs before, a lot of them are retired or a bit older. But we also get students from local schools, and it’s a great opportunity for all these people to connect and learn from each other.”
With over 360 volunteers getting involved in different ways at Family Life, Marilyn sees people gain work experience, improve their English and make connections in the community, all thanks to volunteering. “I can’t speak highly enough of it. It can change a person’s life. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”