“Volunteering is a chance to upskill” – Chenayah Spargo

Cheryl is standing behind the counter of the Bunbury Geographe Motor Museum. She is smiling and looking at the camera

Volunteering is an important strategy when getting work ready or building confidence to enter the work force. It’s a tool that Forrest Personnel Employment Consultants put to good use on a regular basis.

During National Volunteer Week (17 – 23 May), we took the opportunity to visit a few Forrest Personnel participants and host employers to see how they are benefitting and contributing.

Words of wisdom

Before zooming ahead, we’d like to quote an article by Shamara Williams, the Coordinator of Volunteer South West, in the Bunbury Herald (Tuesday 18 May, p 2). She summed it up perfectly when she wrote that: “Studies have shown the health and wellbeing benefits of volunteering are huge. It can help you stay physically and mentally active, reduces isolation, combats depression, lowers blood pressure, assists with career development, and makes you happy.”

With that in mind (particularly the career development bit), we’d like to briefly introduce you to Forrest Personnel participants Cheryl, John, Heath and Chenayah.

Cheryl at the Bunbury Geographe Motor Museum

Cheryl (pictured above) told us that the opportunity to volunteer at the Museum piqued her interest. She reflected that: “I and my other half like to go to car shows. We enjoy looking at older cars and bikes to see how much they’ve changed.” What would be a better volunteer opportunity than something that truly interests us. Well done Cheryl!

We also heard from Christine Green who is the Manager of the Museum. She relayed that: “Cheryl is an enthusiastic person who shows initiative and always acts in the museum’s best interests. Without amazing people like Cheryl who generously contribute their time to non-profits, our community would have much less on offer.”

John at Dot’s Place

We visited John who is a volunteer driver for Dot’s Place, a South West cancer support centre of Cancer Council Western Australia. “I enjoy giving back to the community, and I like driving. My volunteering is a win-win,” said John. This is a recurring theme – it definitely is a win-win when a volunteer assignment is aligned with one’s interests!

Caroline Norrish, who is the South West Support Centre Coordinator for Cancer Council Western Australia, wrote to us that: “John is a friendly and engaging person who treats everyone with kindness and respect. He is a compassionate and reassuring presence for the people he supports, at what is often a very difficult time in their lives. Like all our volunteers, John contributes more than just his time and expertise. He also helps make Dot’s Place in Bunbury the welcoming and supportive space it is.”

John is standing beside a sign for Dot's Place. He has one hand placed on top of the sign

John shows off the sign at the front of Dot’s Place

Heath at Vinnies

We met Heath early one morning at the Vinnies Depot and Shop. He volunteers twice a week as an offsider on the truck. He’s part of a team that collects donations to bring back to the Depot to be sorted and processed for eventual sale in the Shop. He told us that he likes his volunteering and enjoys the people he works with.

We heard from Carolyn Colton who is the Retail and Depot Manager where Heath works. She said that: “Volunteers make a difference to Vinnies as they bring their fountain of knowledge from their life experiences and fulfil our lives with their positive and colourful personalities.

Heath contributes to Vinnies with his go-get attitude. He is a great asset to the truck driver and the other offsiders.”

Heath is leaning against a Vinnies truck. The truck is painted yellow and Heath is wearing a yellow hi-vis vest

Heath leans against a Vinnies truck as he prepares to begin his shift

Chenayah at Vinnies

We jumped at the opportunity to accompany Chenayah to the Vinnies Depot and Shop where she was scheduled to be interviewed for a volunteer position. Following the interview, she was thrilled that she was accepted and was looking forward to getting started. “It’s a chance to upskill,” she told us after her interview.

Chenayah is standing at the front of Vinnies with her hand on a Vinnies sandwich board. She is dressed in black and is wearing dark sunglasses

Chenayah at the front of the Bunbury Vinnies Depot and Shop

We posted to Facebook to congratulate Chenayah on her success. She shared the post and included the preamble: “Did a thing haha.”

We say to Chenayah, the others featured on this page and those volunteering in the community, that you’ve done a lot more than a thing. By volunteering, you are helping yourself take important steps towards employment, while also making the community and the wider world a much better place. Thank you!

This post was edited on 15 June to change the attribution of the quote about John from Fiona Cunningham to Caroline Norrish.

Feature photo: Cheryl at the Bunbury Geographe Motor Museum, May 2021 by Forrest Personnel

Forrest Personnel is a local charity. We specialise in supporting people with health conditions, injuries and disabilities to find and keep jobs.

If you think we can help you find employment, or if you want to take a step forward by volunteering, get in touch today. If you are an employer interested in giving someone an opportunity to work, or even the chance to volunteer, we want to hear from you.

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