During my time serving with HopeStreet in Woolloomooloo I remember a time I needed to intervene in a scuffle between two guys who were having a disagreement over some belongings. When one of the men started to turn on me I was surprised but also relieved as the onlooking homeless community chimed in with a call to leave me alone, insisting, “he’s with us.” What I realised was that very quickly the people I had come to work ‘for’ actually considered me to be part of their community. I had moved from working ‘for’ to serving ‘with’ in a very short period of time. The relationship had shifted to a more equal footing and I was invited to be part of their community, albeit a fringe dweller.
As I have the great privilege of visiting the staff and volunteers across a range of BaptistCare services I’m constantly reminded that community often develops as people have the opportunity to work and serve alongside one another. The volunteers I support can be caught off guard by this at first but end up cherishing the friendships and connections that develop over time with individuals, families and the community.
Thomas is one such volunteer who serves as part of the team at BaptistCare Mayfield Community Centre. He’s has been attending the centre weekly throughout this year and has quickly become part of the community. Thomas shares that, “as a volunteer you find yourself becoming part of their life as well, and they look forward to seeing you and I sit down and have a chat like I’m just talking to a friend. I personally have an investment in this community. It is a community you can come and be part of and be proud of.”
“As a volunteer you find yourself becoming part of their life as well, and they look forward to seeing you and I sit down and have a chat like I’m just talking to a friend.” Thomas, BaptistCare Volunteer Speaking about her friendships with the residents Gail from BaptistCare Warabrook shares that “those kinds of relationships are pretty easy to fall into when you have people who just really want to make some friends and want to talk to people.”
Each week volunteers like Thomas, Gail and many others like them serve clients and residents by offering friendship and companionship. In doing so they create and experience community amongst the people they serve. It’s this community that we celebrate and encourage, and it’s this community that values people and connects with people who might be feeling lonely or socially isolated.
We invite you to consider joining this growing community as well. There are more than 1000 volunteer stories of joy and laughter, of walking with someone as they experience change of residence or circumstances, or opportunities to be a friend and provide encouragement. As Gail says of her volunteer experience, “volunteering is the best job I’ve ever had; it’s fantastic!”
You can view the Celebrating Community through BaptistCare Volunteering below. Alternatively you can request a copy of the DVD by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.