Our wonderful volunteers come from all walks of life, and it’s through their generous contribution that we can keep serving the community through our stores. From city to regional and suburb to coast, we love sharing their unique stories from across the store network.
After many years working as a qualified chef, Sam hung the apron up to focus on raising her young family. And it wasn’t until she saw an ad on social media that she decided to volunteer with the team at BSL Kilsyth earlier this year.
“At home being a Mum, I thought, I can do more than this, and decided to come here to help out”, she explains. And although it’s only been a few months since her first shift, Sam feels so grateful to have landed a role in this bustling op shop. “I haven’t had so much fun in all my life”, she beams, “this is the best job I have ever had”.
Known for her bubbly personality and natural ability to connect with people, Sam does “a bit of everything”, as she puts it. But mostly, she’s known for being able to spot the hidden gems among the many donations received in store.
“Since I became a volunteer, it’s boosted my confidence up”, says Sam, “makes me feel good to help other people”.
“If I could pick a job, this is it, I’ve found it! Makes me happy to be here”. And while Sam loves volunteering with BSL op shops, the team at Kilsyth love having her on board!
Shianne’s journey as a volunteer at BSL Kilsyth is one of absolute inspiration. Always bright, bubbly and enthusiastic, the energy and effort she contributes to the team is what makes her story so special.
For Shianne, volunteering was the best way to ease into the retail setting, gaining confidence and experience in a supportive environment to prepare her for employment. And when she’s not lending a hand at BSL Kilsyth, Shianne spends her time working for the I Can Network, “a mentoring program for young autistic people, like myself”, she explains.
“Being autistic, I was scared to go into the workforce”, she says, mentioning that she wanted to learn how to cope with the bustling sensory stimulation of retail, while growing customer service and communication skills in a place where she felt comfortable being challenged.
“Through volunteering I thought, it’s easy to get into, and you can learn a lot from it. I didn’t think I’d learn as much as I have”, says Shianne. “I’ve learned how to talk to people”, she says with a grin, “and it’s made my communication skills a lot better. It’s even helped in my social life when I’m not working”, she adds.
A typical shift at the op shop can range from working the register, sorting, tidying and replenishing the huge books range – one of Shianne’s favourite tasks – and helping out wherever she’s needed most.
Like Shianne, if you’re looking to gain work experience in a supportive and friendly environment, volunteering with BSL op shops can provide an excellent start. “I came from needing experience, and I am so glad I became a volunteer”, says Shianne. “I can’t say it enough, if you get the chance to volunteer, please do it!”
After noticing an ad on social media, Klaus jumped on the opportunity to volunteer with Hunter Gatherer Fitzroy late last year. And although it’s only been a few months since his first shift, “it’s been a delightful experience and such a fun store to work in”, he says.
While Klaus has previously volunteered on behalf of many great social initiatives, nothing quite compares to working a shift with the vibrant team at Hunter Gatherer. As a young professional with the desire to branch out and support the local community, Klaus has finally found a role that is challenging, fun and physically active, while expanding his social circle.
“It often feels like four hours of hanging, getting to know people I wouldn’t otherwise meet who have interesting lives and fun stories to tell”, he says. A typical shift involves steaming garments, helping to sort donations, cleaning, serving customers and organising products on racks and shelves.
“I really got lucky landing in the Hunter Gatherer store, I get to learn tips on dressing better too”, he says with a smile. “This role is definitely something that gets me out of bed on a Saturday”.
For Klaus, volunteering with Hunter Gatherer is a great fit. Not only is he interested in vintage and second-hand shopping, but he also cares about the circular economy, being mindful of fast fashion and the carbon footprint left on the world.
“I’m grateful to have learnt so much about brands and fashion, we get amazing donations here”, says Klaus, “and if I have to rate volunteering with Hunter Gatherer, it’s 10 out of 10!”.
Jono’s journey began with BSL Kilsyth three years ago, when he’d realised just how important social connection was after becoming unemployed.
For Jono, volunteering means so much more than filling in free time. It’s become an opportunity to meet new people, to connect with the community and to do something where his skills are put to good use, for a cause that helps people out of disadvantage and through tough times.
“I just needed to get out of the house and interact with people”, recalls Jono. “I practiced quite a lot of self-isolation prior to [the pandemic’s] quarantine, so it’s just been helpful for me to get out and interact with people”, he says.
While Jono normally works the register, he’s become one of the store’s key experts in researching special collector’s items that are found among donated goods. There’s always a variety of things to do during a shift, and some interesting things to be found, so spare time is an absolute rarity!
Jono has become an integral member of the team at BSL Kilsyth, and as much as he values volunteering, his contribution is most appreciated in turn.
“You can work with some nice people”, he says. And in the words of Jono to those who are considering volunteering, “just give it a go, you know, why not!”
Jenny made the huge decision to move from the UK to Australia over 6 years ago to be closer to her family. And since that time, she has broadened her friendship group through volunteering with the wonderful team at BSL Knox Ozone.
“I’ve been volunteering at the store for three years and have not looked back since. I’ve made some good friends, I like meeting people and being busy”, says Jenny, as she talks about her experience to date.
Jenny helps with a wide variety of jobs, from putting stock out to helping customers and keeping the shop clean and tidy. But the best thing about coming in for a shift, is spending time with fellow volunteers and staff.
“There’s a nice social aspect, and the best thing is friends”, says Jenny. “We go out once a month for a meal and it’s good fun! Age doesn’t matter coming to work here, you’ve got so many people to talk to. And you need to have a laugh, which we always do!”.
As a local member of the community, Jenny wanted to find a volunteering opportunity that was easy to get to, and one that would fit nicely into her lifestyle. So, to those considering volunteering at their local BSL op shop, Jenny says “I’d tell anybody to come and give it a try!”