Volunteer Mentors Volunteers

May 22, 2013

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Volunteers are an important and valued part of disability support service, Interchange Outer East.

Whether it is supporting children and young adults on recreational camps and activities, providing care and support through the volunteer host program or assisting around the office or on specific projects, they play a vital role in the organisation.

Recreation volunteer, Chiara Munzel, has been an enthusiastic and consistent volunteer with Interchange Outer East for a number of years now. Recently Chiara has taken on a volunteering role with a difference – as a mentor for Thu Hoang, as Thu learns what it is like to be a volunteer at Interchange.

Thu started volunteering with Interchange following her involvement in a project run by her local Migrant Information Centre. The project aimed to encourage participation in the community by introducing people of diverse cultural backgrounds to volunteering opportunities, teaching them the skills required to volunteer and hopefully, as a result of their experience, to find employment.

As Thu required a mentor, Interchange volunteer coordinators, Jess and Marcelo, saw the perfect opportunity for extending Chiara’s experiences by giving her the job of mentoring Thu.  Chiara is a seasoned volunteer of a number of years and too many activities and camps to count! As she is responsible, outgoing and has a good rapport with the other volunteers, staff and the children and families who use Interchange programs and services, she was the perfect choice to introduce Thu to the Interchange team and to support her as she settled into her volunteering role.

The mentoring arrangement is working well. Thu has been working on a number of admin projects and tasks across the agency since mid March and says she feels very much part of the Interchange family.

“I feel very happy when I spend time working at Interchange. I learn a lot of skills from my mentor, who started volunteering a few years ago, but I know I have much more to learn.” said Thu “This is a great opportunity to learn more about the impact of disability. Interchange provides lots of activities and communication with children and young people with disabilities, helping them to develop social skills and increase their levels of independence. I believe Interchange will make positive changes to the lives of these young people so their plans will succeed and their lives will be made better.”

and Chiara .. well Chiara says  “Mentoring Thu has given me so many new experiences and opened up lots of doors for me. Its given me lots more confidence in myself, really extended me and taught me about patience! I might be mentoring Thu in volunteering but she is teaching me so much more.”  read more comments from Chiara ‘Mentoring Thu’.

National Volunteer Week (NVW) was celebrated this year from Monday 13th – Sunday 19th May.  NVW is a time when the contribution of the thousands of Australians, who volunteer their time and services to others in their communities, is officially recognised and rewarded. Interchange Outer East joins in thanking its volunteers for their dedication and involvement and the for difference they make to the lives of all in our organisation.

By Sandra Leehy

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