Volunteers giving back to the community

Volunteers busy at work

Volunteers busy at work

Volunteers busy at work

Volunteers busy at work

“Here’s to all volunteers, those dedicated people who believe in all work and no pay.”  ~Robert Orben.

Many organisations could not survive without the generosity and support from people within the community. That support often comes in way of monetary donations, which is welcomed with open arms, but the donation of time and effort does not go un-noticed.

The motivation behind volunteers offering their time is varied. There is a strong sense from the volunteers at Guide Dogs that they want to give back to the community and to an organisation close to their heart.

Ms Taren Cox found challenges in finding paid or un-paid work as a person with visual impairment.

After becoming a client of Guide Dogs SA/NT, it was a suggestion from her case manager that she give volunteering a try.

“It is a great opportunity to get out of the house, do new things and meet new people,” Ms Cox said.

Ms Hughes, Community Engagement Coordinator at Guide Dogs SA/NT has seen many changes in the volunteering space over the years.

For some people, volunteering is a great way of getting their foot in the door, to an organisation they want to learn more about and eventually secure a paid position in.

For many others though, volunteering is just about getting out, putting their skills to use and working with people in a friendly environment.

Ms Bev Drechsler has spent 2 years working as a volunteer within the Business Development Unit and donates plenty of time making unique cuddly polar fleece blankets for each of the pups graduating from the Puppy Development Centre.

Her passion is sewing and sees the colourful blankets as her way of donating directly to the Guide Dogs.

Ms Hughes believes the help offered by our volunteer team is “absolutely instrumental” to the overall success of the organisation.

The process begins with a volunteer information session, where interested people learn about the various volunteering options available and what is expected of them.

“Volunteers who are keen to continue after knowing all the facts, continue with the induction process, meeting people throughout the organisation and completing the same police checks that paid employees need to undertake,” said Ms Hughes.

“We take our time matching our volunteers with tasks suitable for their skills and lifestyle,” she said.

A well-seasoned volunteer, Ms Lyn Jacobs, currently volunteers at three different organisations.

“I feel a great sense of respect from others in the workforce and the community when I speak of my duties as a volunteer,” Ms Jacobs said.

“Us ‘vollies’, get to enjoy a cuppa with friends whilst making a difference. I really feel like I am making good use of my time here,” she said.

Mr Dahmen, a long term volunteer at Guide Dogs, started his adventure as a Guide Dog volunteer, when he took on a “handy man” position.

After being made redundant, it was his financial advisor who suggested he look into volunteering as a way to build new networks and satisfy the work requirements of Centrelink.

“I’ve been volunteering here for just over 2 years now. I enjoy the variety of work and can’t see myself ever giving it up.” Mr Dahmen said.

Music Appreciation Group for people with Sensory Loss

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The music appreciation group, meet monthly at Guide Dogs SA headquarters to enjoy and learn about different music genres and experience community-based music events. The group is inclusive of people with sensory impairments and varying needs. Held monthly, the group has been operating since 2009. Mr Simon Wong, a vision impaired client himself, formed the group to provide members with the opportunity to connect, have fun and enjoy a monthly musical treat. The group coordinator, Ms Yasmine Flinn works together with the group to put together a yearly schedule of events. “The generosity of the music community is overwhelming, with many artists offering their time performing for the group, at no cost,” Ms Flinn said. The group is so supportive of one another and many enjoy the social aspect of meeting up each month. “For some members, this is their one and only social outing each month,’ she said. Many of the members have built lasting friendships through attending the music sessions and have started to network outside of the group. This month, the group is set to enjoy the woodwind quartet police band who has charitably donated their time on a number of occasions since the group formed in 2009.