Volunteering time, energy and empathy for the betterment of those less well-off is nothing new – humankind has been supporting and loving and encouraging each other since the beginning of time – it makes us unique as a species.
Here in the Byron Shire, we are proud of our record of reaching out to those in need.
Cath comes from a mental health background and has been volunteering at the homeless showers two mornings per week for the past eighteen months.
These are located at the community cabin in Byron Bay, and offer much more than hot showers to those living rough.
Cath has helped connect other services which include legal aid, a community nurse, the needle exchange program, mental health services, Indigenous support workers, dental health, breakfasts, clothes, haircuts and access to a washing machine.
She says that the community showers offer a venue that is caring and safe, where clients can be themselves and unpack their life stories without fear of judgment or criticism.
She says, ‘It is wonderful to see someone come in looking dishevelled and downcast, needing to go to a job interview or doctor’s appointment, and leave feeling clean and presentable, with a load off their shoulders.’
Meanwhile, Linda volunteers at the Byron Community Centre and co-ordinates a program called Money Matters.
She tells this story: ‘A few years ago, I sat down with a client who was experiencing financial hardship and had come to the community centre for help. We spent some time together creating a manageable budget. She was open to making some changes and with encouragement she regained her confidence and trust in a better future.
‘I was happy to come across her in a retail store where she is now working. She recognised me and said how working together making a budget for her had changed her life.’
Another volunteer, Michael, combines his love of writing and meeting new people to create Who’s In The House? an emailed publication with a photo which seeks to curb the ‘passing ships in the night’ phenomenon that can happen as volunteers come and go, doing their thing at the Byron Community Centre.
Volunteers tell as little or as much about themselves as they feel comfortable sharing.
Michael says, ‘The range and depth of volunteers’ life experiences is extraordinary, and the passion, joy, skill and commitment they bring to a wide range of activities is simply inspiring. I regularly get feedback on how much their lives are enhanced through helping others and through connection with other caring people.’
Events till May 27
Byron Community Centre Volunteer Hub will be hosting events until May 27 to acknowledge the generous contributions of volunteers in the Byron Shire.
Contact the volunteer co-ordinator in your organisation for details. If potential volunteers complete an application form online at byroncentre.com.au they will be called in for an interview and can find out what’s available in the Byron Shire. For more information call the Byron Community Centre on 6685 6807.
n This article was supplied by the Byron Community Centre.