“I have volunteered in one way or another for most of my life,” says Kim Reilly, manager of the Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre in Altona.
“I can’t see my life without doing something for others in some way or other, whether it’s a commitment of sitting on a committee or just being somewhere on a weekly basis to help out for a couple of hours. Volunteering makes me happy!” Kim adds.
As the manager of a community arts centre, Kim understands firsthand the vital role volunteers play in the success of the centre.
“We know we couldn’t do what we do at the Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre without our volunteers. Some of our programs wouldn’t run without the volunteers, such as the Kings of the Kitchen men’s cooking program and our Boys only Barbeque. Volunteers help us manage our large garden and the maintain the building along with various administrative tasks,” Kim explains.
Like many other community organisations, the COVID19 safety restrictions and precautions have made it challenging for community organisations to provide opportunities for volunteering. While the Louise Joel Arts and Community Centre is closed to the public at the moment, there are still opportunities for volunteers to contribute in a safe manner.
“We are taking this opportunity to sort out our stationery cupboard and scanning documents – all tasks that our volunteers could easily help with while maintaining appropriate social distancing,” says Kim.
Reflecting on her varied volunteering experiences, Kim acknowledges the many health and wellbeing benefits that comes from volunteering
“It’s a great way to connect with people, stay active while also providing meaningful support to organisations like ours who rely on volunteers. Volunteers are appreciated, they are giving back, creating their own social networks and we can’t emphasise enough what it means to our organisation to have additional support. It makes what we do more meaningful, it increases our impact on community connections and we can keep doing more,” stresses Kim.
If you are thinking about volunteering in any way, Kim recommends that you shop around for an organisation that suits you, one that will appreciate your contribution and shares in. your values.
“Volunteering is a two-way street – matching volunteers with organisations and organisations with volunteers is very important. Don’t be afraid to change organisations if one doesn’t suit you – but keep going until you find one that does!” advises Kim.