National Volunteer Week runs from 11 May to 17 May. This year’s theme is ‘give happy, live happy.’ Volunteering at some services won’t bring immediate happiness, but realising you have made a difference to the lives of people in the community is very rewarding.
Youth Off The Streets has 415 active volunteers that donate an estimated 782 hours per week. Some services deal with very disadvantaged young people and it can be difficult to provide joyful experiences for volunteers in those services.
Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets, says a service like Street Walk isn’t always a pleasant experience as you’re dealing with the most disadvantaged young people. It’s important to look back on what you accomplished for the young people.
“Street Walk is one of our front line services and it is often our first point of contact with homeless young people. It’s a very confronting service for some people and volunteers as it is not euphoric work. They experience the issues young homeless people face first hand. Looking back on it though, they can say they’ve made a difference in young people’s lives: helping the most disadvantaged,” he says.
Street Walk in 2014 transported 198 young people to a refuge and a further 206 to a safe place off the streets. Every night this service is supported by a volunteer. A key part of the service is also satisfying the immediate needs of young people. In 2014, Street Walk handed out food to young people on 1,362 occasions.
Long serving Street Walk volunteer, Norman Nolan, says that he feels sympathy for the young people on the streets.
“Some of the experiences that you hear and see young people go through can really shock you. I feel sympathy for these young people. I do feel happy that I’m doing something worthwhile and, ultimately, that might lead to helping some young people. It’s more of a reflective happiness rather than an emotional happiness that you have at the time,” says Norman Nolan, a long serving volunteer.
Youth Off The Streets’ volunteers help all 35 services across NSW, Queensland and Tasmania. The volunteers are helping young people across the country unlock their full potential.
By donating time as a volunteer, people can help make a significant difference to the lives of our most vulnerable youth. Visit www.youthoffthestreets.com.au or call (02) 9330 3500 to find out which of our youth services need volunteer assistance now.
Youth Off The Streets Mission:
Helping young people to discover greatness within, by engaging, supporting and providing opportunities to encourage and facilitate positive life choices.
About Youth Off The Streets:
Youth Off The Streets is a community organisation working for young people who are homeless, drug dependent and recovering from abuse. We support these young people as they work to turn their lives around and overcome immense personal traumas such as neglect and physical, psychological and emotional abuse.
Since opening in 1991, Youth Off The Streets has grown from a single food van delivering meals to young homeless people on the streets of Kings Cross to a major youth specific agency providing a wide range of services offering a full continuum of care.
It is our goal that these young people will leave our care drug free, with a high school education, living skills and a full or part time job in hand.