As part of National volunteering week (May 6 – 22) we are sharing stories and highlights of some of our amazing volunteers! Together, through volunteering, we are changing communities for the better. We are, Better Together.
Lachlan – Playpod Program Volunteer
Why did you become a HCI volunteer?
Healthy Cities Illawarra (HCI) has always been an organisation that I wanted to be a part of. During my university degree I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to HCI, to not only gain valuable experience in the area of public health, but also align myself with the values of helping others. For some time, I’ve always wanted to give back and HCI was the perfect place to do so. Not only would I grow professionally but personally. I’ve always wanted to give back to my community. I don’t know where or who originally quoted it, but it says something along the line of “that within service to others, you’ll find true meaning in life”. It may be somewhat cliché but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been driven by this principle and it’s why I became a volunteer at HCI.
How did you first get involved with Healthy Cities Illawarra?
My first involvement with HCI was with Cook Chill Chat, but I was also given the opportunity to volunteer with the Playpod program.
What has your experience as a program volunteer been like?
My main involvement has been with Playpod and I can’t speak more highly of the program. At first I was very hesitant and unsure as I’ve never worked with children before but Michelle definitely instilled great belief that I would do well within the program. Ever since day one I’ve been extremely welcomed not only by HCI staff, but also the kids who come to the program. I often tell people that Playpod is the highlight of my week and I look forward to it more than the kids do. My overall experience has been an immensely positive one, not only have I grown professionally but I have had the chance to have an impact on my community.
What is the best thing about Playpod in your perspective?
When I first started with the program I was informed that some of the boys who attend Playpod would be so excited to have a male volunteer attend. At first I didn’t really understand or recognise the impact it would have, even in my first week most of the boys would follow me around all day either wanting to engage in some sort of sports activity, tell me about their favourite video game or just generally talk to me about what was happening in their lives. My perspective massively shifted from me just being a volunteer to me actively being a positive role model in their lives; for the recognition that just turning up, offering my attention and time showed that I cared. The best thing about Playpod is that to me, the little things have a big impact. To the kids who come to the program I’m no longer just a volunteer but someone they look up to and trust.
What would you say to anyone outside considering volunteering?
Do it! There’s so much to be gained by giving back; whether someone is looking for professional or personal development, there is nothing more rewarding than giving back to your community.
If you’d like to volunteer with an organisation that has real impact in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, register your interest now!