weVolunteer Stories

By helping out during times of need or following an emergency, volunteers make a real difference in our communities. Volunteers recognise the contribution they make and the vital role they play in the response to any crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

See below some examples of weVolunteer and our dedicated community recovery volunteers in action.

Volunteer / Organisation

Loren & Dementia Australia

The start of 2021 saw COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease across Victoria, bringing hope that a post-COVID world was not too far away. This too meant that in-person volunteering was able to gradually resume, providing much-needed relief for many community organisations who rely on events and in-person activities to continue their work.

This was the case for Dementia Australia, the national peak body that supports and empowers the estimated half a million Australians living with dementia and almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. Despite being the second leading cause of death in Australia, dementia remains one of the most challenging and misunderstood conditions, still with no known cure.

The organisation’s annual Memory Walk & Jog events are a key fundraising and education tool for enabling meaningful support services and information to those with a dementia diagnosis, as well as their families and carers.

The events are held in various locations across the country and volunteers are a vital part of the day, by enthusiastically welcoming participants, offering practical support and – this year – helping to keep everyone COVID safe.

But sourcing volunteers for the 2021 schedule was proving to be more challenging than previous years. Although the easing of restrictions enabled in-person events to resume, many community organisations were seeing a significant drop in their usual volunteer numbers.

Thankfully, weVolunteer was able to connect with Dementia Australia to offer support in re-engaging volunteers during this difficult time. Jacinta Archer, Volunteer Coordinator at Dementia Australia, says the weVolunteer platform provided a great way to engage with committed and credentialed volunteers while in-person volunteering was re-emerging in Victoria.

“It was wonderful that the community had reached a point where such events were again possible with appropriate COVID-safe measures, and volunteers are key to the success of these endeavours.”

One such volunteer was Loren, who joined in August 2020 when the project first began. After hearing of the Memory Walk & Jog events through weVolunteer role alerts, she generously offered her time and support to volunteer at all three of the Victorian events, held in Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat. Despite having to travel a significant distance on each occasion, Loren always arrived by 5:45am with a smile and an abundance of enthusiasm.

“Loren provided great leadership, twice assisting as a course supervisor, coordinating a team of track marshals, and overseeing safety and support in her course area. We are so grateful for the time she shared with us and her commitment to our organisation.”

Volunteers like Loren are integral for so many organisations, particularly for supporting communities bounce back from the challenges of the past year. Throughout the pandemic, communities across Australia have missed the opportunity that these and other similar events provide.

While these 3 events alone helped raise over $300,000 for Dementia Australia, it was also a chance to reconnect the local community – something that wouldn’t be possible without the support of dedicated volunteers.

In recognition of her outstanding contribution to community recovery through Dementia Australia, Loren has been awarded the weVolunteer Community Champion winner for 2021. Congratulations Loren!

Click the link below to find out more about Dementia Australia and upcoming Memory Walk & Jog events near you.

Organisation

Muslim Women’s Council of Victoria

Muslim Women’s Council of Victoria (MWCV) is a not-for-profit organisation initially formed by Muslim women to meet the challenges faced by multicultural community living, working and integrating into the broader community in a way that honours their cultural heritage while simultaneously enriching the broader Australian community.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, MWCV started the ‘Friday Free meals’ initiative, which delivers free hot meals and grocery packs to vulnerable Victorian families. Their dedicated team of volunteers have access to a commercial kitchen through Moreland City Council, where they prepare around 300 to 450 free Halal meals each week.

Council President, Afshan Mantoo, says their volunteers come from a variety of different backgrounds – some being lawyers, teachers and health professionals outside the kitchen – but all come together to give their time to support those in need.

“None of us are chefs. It’s home-cooked food for hundreds of people. Students, families, refugees and people from all walks of life come and take the food we prepare.”

When launching the initiative, MWCV soon found themselves in urgent need of delivery drivers to distribute the meals prepared in the Friday Free meals kitchen. After hearing of weVolunteer through the Moreland food relief network, they contacted the team to assist in quickly finding volunteers.

“We heard about their reliability and professionalism, and decided to find our volunteers through weVolunteer. Within less than 24 hours, they found two very dedicated delivery drivers for us. Both the volunteers have been an inseparable part of our organisation since and have made significant contribution to the work we do.”

As of May 2021, MWCV has again been inundated with requests for help, following the extended lockdown imposed across Victoria. To meet the need, the team has doubled the amount of food served each Friday, with many casual workers and local families being particularly affected by the return of lockdown restrictions.

Through their registration with weVolunteer, MWCV continue to have access to a motivated pool of credentialed volunteers, particularly during times of urgent need.

“We are extremely pleased with their services and will surely love to go back to them in future when we need more volunteers for our future projects.”

Iqbal Bhatti, a volunteer with MWCV, says volunteering has been the most rewarding experience of her life.

“Experiencing the kindness and passion to make a difference in people’s lives and that warmth in the Friday Free meals kitchen full of people from different cultures, was touching and inspiring. MWCV is no less than a family where people bonded even more in time of crisis.”

Click on the play button below to find out more about the Muslim Women's Council Victoria

Organisation

Doveton Special Soccer School

For many, the global pandemic has brought unique challenges, especially in terms of mental wellbeing. After a year dominated by lockdowns and restrictions across Victoria, social isolation has been a key concern – particularly for those with disabilities.

Around 1 in 5 people in Australia have a disability of some kind, including over half a million with an intellectual disability. Research shows that disasters, crises or any sort of disruption to everyday life typically affect those with disabilities far more than the general population.

“With restrictions in place due to COVID-19 many people with disabilities will have found it very hard, or even impossible, to participate in their usual community and social activities during lockdown.” - Dr Nick Hagiliassis, a consulting psychologist with Scope.

During these times, maintaining social interactions and networks is key to recovery for those experiencing isolation or loneliness. For those with disabilities, this is often facilitated by the work of local community groups and services to support them.

In south-east Melbourne, Doveton Special Soccer School (DSSS) was founded in 1993 and gives young people with a disability an opportunity to learn and play soccer. The School is open to everyone and Founder Juan Carlos Loyola OAM says disabilities are seen as a challenge, not a barrier.

“It is all about having the opportunity to be involved and be a part of an experience that comes from simply participating and being part of a team. It gives many young people and adults fantastic rewards that they may otherwise miss out on – not only acquiring sporting skills, but there are numerous parallels that can be drawn between sport and day-to-day life.”

DSSS couldn’t be in any better hands – Juan Carlos Loyola OAM holds an impressive resume of soccer experience and has been critical to the School’s continued success over the past 20 years.

Juan played soccer in his home country of Argentina for many years, before arriving in Australia in 1977. He has since been selected as Head Coach for various national and state level teams, including the Special Olympics and World Cup.

Juan’s tireless contributions are well recognised, having been awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to disability sport in 2009. He has also inspired a local Community Service Award in his honour, an annual recognition for residents’ long-term dedication to volunteering in the local area.

Like so many others, DSSS were greatly impacted by COVID-19, with volunteers being the heart of the organisation and essential to their ongoing success. weVolunteer is proud to support local organisations like DSSS by connecting them with credentialed volunteers when they are most needed and allowing them to continue their great work.

After all, maintaining key connections to the community is crucial to building resilience before, during and after a crisis, particularly for more vulnerable members of the community.

To find out more about Doveton Special Soccer School, click the link below.

Organisation

Vicroads - L2P Program

Vicroads proudly supports the TAC L2P Program, funded by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and delivered in local communities across Victoria. Young learners aged between 16 and 21 years of age are matched with fully licensed volunteer mentors, who help them develop skills to become safe and confident drivers.

For many, L2P is the only option for getting on the road to independence and freedom. The mentoring initiative is aimed at ensuring all eligible young people, regardless of their personal circumstances, have the opportunity to gain the supervised driving experience required for obtaining a probationary license.

The program is run across Victoria by various community agencies and made possible by a dedicated group of volunteer mentors. Luke Donovan, Vicroads Partnerships Officer, says the value and importance of volunteers to the L2P program doesn’t go unnoticed.

“Our volunteers are the life blood of the program and our young people are forever grateful for the assistance they provide.”

Like many community programs, the L2P Program was heavily impacted by COVID-19, particularly through multiple lockdowns and the significant loss of volunteers. Likewise, many of the young people involved in the program also suffered the effects of the crisis, particularly those lacking strong support networks in their personal lives.

Once circumstances allowed, the L2P team wanted to ensure the program resumed strongly in 2021 and focused on quickly rebuilding a network of volunteer mentors.

After hearing of weVolunteer through a colleague in the community services sector, Luke jumped at the chance to get Vicroads involved. Upon creating their own MyPass portal and uploading their roles, Vicroads were able to quickly fill their vacant volunteer roles, enabling their program to get up and running again to meet the community need. As one of the early adopters of weVolunteer, they have since placed 55 new volunteers into L2P programs across Victoria.

“weVolunteer has been great so far. It has simplified the task of connecting with new volunteers and opened the door to L2P as a new volunteering experience for people across Victoria.”

By facilitating a rapid community response, weVolunteer can help connect organisations in need with volunteers passionate about making a real difference in their community. For Vicroads and the L2P Program, this has meant “getting young people back on the road as quickly as possible and moving towards their dreams.”

Click the play button below to find out more about the TAC L2P Program.

Volunteer

Daniel's story

As a volunteer manager himself, Daniel Bryen’s passion for volunteering extends across both his professional and personal life. He works as Volunteer & Student Coordinator at Thorne Harbour Health – a community organisation that supports PLHIV (People Living with HIV) and sex, sexuality and gender diverse communities – but is also registered as a community recovery volunteer with weVolunteer.

After recently moving to Childers in regional Victoria, Daniel knew he wanted to get involved in his new community. Not having time to visit a local volunteering hub, he came across weVolunteer through Facebook and it offered him the perfect gateway to opportunities in the area.

Since registering, Daniel has enjoyed using the MyPass platform, particularly receiving regular updates through the weVolunteer newsletters and being able to see if roles match his skills and interests before taking the next step.

“It [weVolunteer] has been great! I love the Passport idea, so that I’m not having to share all my details each time. It’s also interesting just to see what’s out there and see how many amazing roles and organisations there are. I’ve even forwarded some of them onto friends who I think might be interested.”

Through weVolunteer, Daniel soon came across the Vicroads L2P Program, which helps young, disadvantaged people access valuable mentoring to increase their driving hours and experience. The program had seen a significant decline in older volunteers due to COVID-19 and approached weVolunteer to help get back on their feet.

After applying using his Volunteer Passport in MyPass, Daniel was easily able to work the role into his schedule due to his flexible working from home arrangements. He now uses a local share car to regularly meet with a young driver to help them accrue the hours they need to obtain a probationary licence.

While his contributions are incredibly valuable for the young people in his regional community, Daniel has found his volunteer experience to be equally rewarding personally.

“I’m now connected with a great cause in my local community and as a result of the training and onboarding I’ve met some really nice people. It’s a very direct form of gratification, knowing that I’ve had an impact on a young person’s life at a crucial time for them.”

Want to be a community recovery volunteer like Daniel? Register to weVolunteer below!

Volunteer

Jennifer's story

weVolunteer is thrilled to have placed the first volunteer with an organisation in Victoria’s new volunteer credentialing and matching portal.

Since the launch of the weVolunteer initiative in August 2020, more than 1,500 Victorians have registered their interest by creating a volunteer profile. These profiles, complete with essential information such as certifications, are being used to apply for volunteer roles directly through weVolunteer. Charities and organisations looking to support Victorians during the coronavirus have advertised roles on weVolunteer, including Vicroads, VCC Emergencies Ministry & the Ballarat Foundation.

Jennifer Marshall, a Victorian resident, came across weVolunteer when searching for opportunities to volunteer in the City of Casey region. In the past, she has participated in a number of international aid experiences, as well as providing volunteer support on a local level through NGOs such as Samaritans Purse.

Throughout the Victorian lockdown due to COVID-19, Jennifer admitted she faced her own challenges with keeping a positive mindset.

“At the moment I have to be honest, I’ve struggled mentally myself and I know it’s better to give than receive, and that helping others can stop you from being so self-absorbed. I’m really lucky I work from home and that hasn’t changed so I’ve been really blessed in that, however I still needed to feel like I’m doing something.”

Like many Victorians, Jennifer has been unable to connect with social circles such as friends or her church group. She says this was a big reason why she was prompted to search for volunteer opportunities. After applying via weVolunteer and creating a volunteer profile, the VCC Emergencies Ministry shared an opportunity with Jennifer through weVolunteer that she couldn’t pass up.

“Your site (weVolunteer) was fantastic and before this I had no idea that the VCCEM even existed. I’ve done a bit of work with Samaritans Purse and this looks like a similar thing where they provide you all the training and for me it brought all of the pieces of the puzzle together. When I saw this opportunity it was really exciting, I’m really rapt that that’s what came up.”

Jennifer is now booked in to complete her Psychological First Aid training and is looking forward to engaging with the volunteer role and other like-minded people.

weVolunteer uses MyPass as its central registration and secure credential sharing database to engage community members across Victoria with volunteering opportunities.

Want to be a community recovery volunteer like Jennifer? Register to weVolunteer below!

Want to become a community recovery volunteer?

Register here