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.