OUR PEOPLE

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approx, volunteers in 2019/20.

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hours of time donated to support our good works in 2019/20.

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the year that 20 year old Frederic Ozanam founded the St Vincent de Paul Society.

VOLUNTEERS

“I volunteer with Vinnies because I am passionate about cooking and enjoy interacting with people. I smile when I see the people interact during the class, then eating together what we have made around a table.”

Antonia Walsh, a volunteer of nine years who teaches a weekly cooking class at Vincentian House.

VOLUNTEER PROFILE

Offering congratulations were, left to right: Kelly Morgan, Regional Director-West, Holy Family Parish priest Fr Barry Dwyer, Sr Kath Barker and
Barbara Scott, Shop Day Organiser (former Retail Team Leader).

FOR THE PAST 35 YEARS SR. KATHLEEN BARKER HAS BEEN A MUCH-LOVED VOLUNTEER AT THE VINNIES SHOP IN PARKES.

Sr Kathleen Barker

For the past 35 years Sr. Kathleen Barker has been a much-loved volunteer at the Vinnies Shop in Parkes. Beginning at the front counter before taking on the important task of sorting donated clothing and goods, ‘Sr. Kath’ was awarded with a Life Service Award for her long and selfless dedication to the Society.

The spirit of volunteering runs through the Society at all levels. Today, we are blessed to have close to 9,100 volunteers continuing the legacy of Frederic Ozanam, who founded the St Vincent de Paul Society back in 1833. Like Frederic, who was 20 years old when he started the organisation, many of our volunteers are young people who are inspired to give back to their communities in between study, work and social commitments.

Our volunteers change lives every day through their work in Vinnies Shops and supporting the operation of our many services across the state, from food vans and community hubs to crisis accommodation centres for people escaping homelessness or domestic violence.

As COVID-19 changed the way we do business, we welcomed new volunteers through a “Kindness Revolution” webpage which was set up to offer short-term volunteering opportunities. These volunteers were deployed to support services in locations such as the Matthew Talbot Hostel, where they helped make prepacked meals for our guests.

The pandemic also gave us the opportunity to innovate and find new ways of supporting the community with new programs like Tech Connect. Tech Connect pairs volunteer “digital mentors” with socially isolated community members, teaching them to use technology and online tools such as Zoom and Facebook.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, our Night Patrol volunteers have assisted in a variety of ways, ensuring people experiencing homelessness or a lack of food still get regular meals. Volunteers with our Parramatta Vinnies Van have continued to provide their usual evening service while maintaining physical distancing. Sydney and Liverpool Night Patrol volunteers have donated food items and put together snack packs which have been distributed from daytime distribution points. This mode of delivery during coronavirus has allowed us to provide support to our usual visitors as well as families who would not have otherwise attended the evening service. Several volunteers have also made generous financial donations to ensure a good supply of food is always available. We have been moved by their willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.

ON THE ROAD WITH NIGHT PATROL

Peter Marshall has had a long association with the Night Patrol.

“TODAY THERE ARE STILL HOMELESS PEOPLE ON THE STREETS OF SYDNEY AND THANKS TO THE VINNIES VAN, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE STILL GOING OUT AND SHOWING COMPASSION AND COMPANIONSHIP.” – PETER MARSHALL

Peter Marshall is a member of our Sydney Harbour North Conference. He was one of the founding volunteers on our Night Patrol/Vinnies Van program, serving up hot food and drinks for people sleeping rough. He recalls how 50 years ago, a group of young university students ventured out into the streets of Sydney and found homeless people in need of companionship:

“We headed off from the Matthew Talbot Hostel with an urn of hot water and gave out coffee to those who were sleeping out in the streets. It was pretty basic and I don’t think we had any grand plans.

“Then the St Vincent de Paul Society gave us a second-hand Holden station wagon – it wasn’t a great vehicle, but at least it meant we weren’t driving our families’ cars. In time the old light-blue station wagon was replaced with a van.

“When it all started, no one was recording what we were doing, we were just getting on with things. I did not expect that the Night Patrol would continue; we were just a handful of students fitting it in around our study and other activities. At that time we were more concerned about being called up in the draft for Vietnam, the politics of the day, and trying to complete our university courses!

“Today there are still homeless people on the streets of Sydney and thanks to the Vinnies Van, young people are still going out and showing compassion and companionship. We are all human and the call on our humanity remains.”

This financial year we increased our focus on finding ways to thank our volunteers and engage them as part of the wider St Vincent de Paul Society. As well as arranging regular gatherings such as shop morning teas, the Society has been a strong supporter of broader events acknowledging the efforts of volunteers. These included National Volunteers Week in May, when CEO Jack de Groot described volunteers (including our volunteer members) as the “backbone of who we are at Vinnies”.

We also celebrated our younger volunteers and brought attention to opportunities for youth volunteering during National Student Volunteer Week and the UN’s International Youth Day, both held in August. A wide variety of events, activities, forums and awareness-raising campaigns were led by higher education providers and schools nationwide. The aim is to help students realise how much of a difference they can make by volunteering, and to be creative and genuine in the ways they help others. The Society continues to be active on university campuses and with both primary and secondary school groups across NSW.

We continue to implement strategies to encourage volunteers of all ages to join the Society and acknowledge their commitment. As always, we thank our incredible and invaluable network of volunteers whose belief and dedication are the backbone of the St Vincent de Paul Society.

CARE DURING COVID

Shane and Damien have stepped up to support families in need
during COVID-19.

“NOT EVERYONE IS GIVEN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, BUT I FEEL THAT IF WE CAN GIVE EVEN THE SLIGHTEST OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE SOMEONE’S LIFE BETTER, THEN WHY SHOULDN’T WE?” – DAMIEN

We were creative in our methods of providing assistance during COVID-19, finding ways of helping people and families without close face-to-face contact.

Shane and Damien volunteer with the Society in Sydney, and Damien is also the President of the Young Vinnies Society at Sydney University. Like many young volunteers, they stepped up to fill the gap when our older members and volunteers were forced to self-isolate. One of Shane and Damien’s ways of helping was by dropping off supermarket vouchers in the letterboxes of families doing it tough around the inner Sydney suburbs.

“Not everyone is given equal opportunity, but I feel that if we can give even the slightest opportunity to make someone’s life better, then why shouldn’t we?” Damien said.