Our volunteers perform a number of tasks in our stores; check out what some of our volunteers are doing in retail…
Lyn started with the Brotherhood of St Laurence over 18 years ago due to her passion for the work of the organisation.
As well as her volunteer role at the Mount Waverley Store, Lyn also volunteered with the local scouts - clocking up an impressive 37 years of service (and counting!).
In addition to Lyn's passion for the cause, volunteering also appealed to her as a way of getting involved in the community and meeting new people.
'The best part of volunteering though is knowing you are part of a team that is helping others', says Lyn.
Nadia, who lived most of her life in Egypt, came to Australia in 2010 after retiring from a job at the bank which she had been in for 43 years.
Nadia was concerned about the language barrier that taking part in an activity like volunteering would present as English was not her first language. However after chatting with the Store Manager she immediately applied for a position at the Croydon, now Kilsyth store.
Starting the next day Nadia has never looked back.
'I enjoy myself very much working in the shop as well as enjoying the company of other staff and volunteers,' she says.
'I also feel great as I am serving the community.'
Having always volunteered in some capacity while her children were in school, Angela decided she wanted a new challenge after her youngest finished Year 12.
Two years ago, she came to volunteer at the Mount Waverley store and has never looked back.
While Angela still works as a nurse, she likes to keep active, so her decision to volunteer with the Brotherhood was an easy one, especially given her love of op shops.
'The best part about volunteering for me is interacting with such wonderful customers, as well as the people I work with,' she said.
'Almost everyone who walks into the store says it has such a happy atmosphere, and that is part of the joy of volunteering my time there.'
Lucia, 77, works half a day a week at the Brotherhood's Pakenham store, and after 17 years still loves it.
After retiring from her position as a Library Officer at Monash Caulfield Library, Lucia saw a notice in the Pakenham store window asking for volunteers.
'I felt I wanted something away from home and volunteering was a great opportunity to do so well as to meet new people.'
Lucia loves volunteering for the social aspect it provides. 'You’re often meeting new people in the community. We get a lot of regular elderly people that come to the store, even if it is just for a chat, it gives them a sense of social connection – you can see that it means a lot to them. Interactions like this make a huge difference.'
Lucia’s biggest challenge in her time at the Brotherhood was moving from the traditional cash register to a computerised system (POS), but now uses it with confidence and sees the many benefits it brings.
Margaret, 67, was introduced to the Brotherhood of St Laurence through Maureen, a long-time friend and colleague. Maureen was a volunteer at the Dandenong Store as well as having worked with Margaret at Gillette.
Margaret had always promised that upon her retirement she would join Maureen at the store and kept her word. The very next day after retiring, Margaret commenced volunteering in Dandenong.
When the Dandenong store closed its doors in 2010, Margaret joined the team at Pakenham, where she remains today. 'I had always thought that there is no point to sitting around at home doing nothing once I retired. Volunteering is not only a great way to ease the transition to retirement, but a great way to keep active in the community,' she says.
Margaret’s favourite part of being a volunteer is the experience of meeting new people and forming friendships with others within the team and the community. Her most memorable experience of her time at the Brotherhood was a conversation she had with a customer: 'I vividly remember a story of a woman who came into the store who told me about how she was in the markets one day and war broke out. She just kept walking with the two children she had with her at the time and found refuge at a camp, and was placed in Dandenong,' she says.
Rosemary, 68, came to volunteer at the Brotherhood of St Laurence when the Pakenham store first opened in 1996. Having been a local of the area for 29 years, Rosemary was keen to give back and stay connected with the community.
'I always loved op shops and once told my sister I would love to work in one and that desire never went away', Rosemary says.
Now having kindly donated her time and skills for 18 years, Rosemary is still as happy as she was on day one. 'It’s a great way to meet new people, whether it is meeting new volunteers or customers – it is a lovely way to get to know the locals'.
Rosemary’s favourite memory from her time so far at the Brotherhood, apart from her daily interactions at the store, was attending the Brotherhood’s 80th birthday event in the city. Those in attendance were treated to a lovely meal and given a copy of the Brotherhood’s published book Stories of Courage and Resilience.
Becoming a volunteer has had a huge impact on Tyler’s life. The bubbly 30-year-old with Down’s syndrome has never let his disability hold him back, but since he began volunteering at the Brotherhood’s Community Store in Geelong, he has gained a new found confidence and purpose.
Tyler was eager to work, but despite being willing and able he couldn’t find the right opportunity. Last year while op-shopping with his mother Chris, Tyler visited the Grovedale Community Store near his home "to grab a video", as he recalls. They met one of the store’s friendly managers, Tracey, who offered Tyler the opportunity to help out in the video and DVD section. An avid movie buff, Tyler was thrilled!
'I was looking at myself and felt empty. So I wanted to volunteer to help other people', he says.
Tyler now eagerly contributes at the store five days a week for his 10am–2pm shift. Geelong Store Manager, John, says Tyler adds great value to their workplace. 'He’s a breath of fresh air. Tyler always brings a positive attitude to work and has a way of lightening up your day.'