For this month’s volunteer profile, we decided to sit down with Joy Patton, one of our longest serving volunteers to talk about her experiences volunteering for Youth Off The Streets.
YOTS: Can you tell us a bit about your professional background?
Joy: Well, I’m retired now. In my past I have done clerical work, but mainly, I’ve been a farmer’s wife here in Singleton until my husband passed away 12 years ago.
YOTS: When did you first become involved with YOTS?
Joy: It would be 20 odd years ago. Father came to Singleton, to a dinner as a guest speaker, and he spoke about Youth Off The Streets and his work and from that night onwards I have been involved.
YOTS: What was the first service you volunteered for?
The cattle drive service – I was around when Father used to take the kids out on cattle drives way back at the start!
YOTS: Why did you decide to support our Op Shop in particular?
I was involved from the very start with the Op Shop. The idea was to try to fundraise by opening an Op Shop – this was some 16 years ago. So I went to the real state and asked for the place and we got it and that’s when we opened it up and it all started coming together.
YOTS: What is the most important thing you have learned while volunteering?
Volunteering has taught me to not be judgemental of other people. The people that go through the Op Shop – the people that work there I mean – come from all sorts of walks of life, but usually they have had some sort of crisis in their life. Nobody knows how the Op Shop has helped those people. When they first come to us, many of them are shy and have no confidence whatsoever but after a while they start to blossom. What they have been able to achieve despite their difficulties in life is wonderful and we always give them encouragement.
YOTS: What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done to assist disadvantaged young people?
Well, for starters I believe the Op shop is a great training for young people. Young people need encouragement from others; some of the young people that I meet need a lot of help, and with encouragement and right support we see some young ones starting to blossom.
YOTS: What do you like most about volunteering/why do you keep coming back?
I love coming back! If people could see the achievements of the young people that Father Chris Riley looks after, they would understand. Seeing their progress gives you the encouragement to keep going. Volunteering gives me a lot of strength because I learn a lot from other people’s misfortunes and stories.
I also enjoy volunteering because it allows me to interact with others and meet other volunteers, most of which are dealing with personal problems in their life. I always tell them that if they need time off to let us know, we can always work something out. In many ways, they need this shop as much as this shop needs them! It’s a very rewarding experience.
YOTS: What do you like to do when you’re not spending your time working or volunteering?
Oh I’ve got plenty to do (laughs). I’ve got a property and cattle to maintain. I’ve just come back from a 5 week holiday to Norway and Sweden. I have a lot of things to keep me busy!
YOTS: Do you have a favourite quote or piece of advice that you live by or that you wish you could’ve told your younger self?
Always think well of everybody and treat other people how you would like to be treated.