We're all a volunteer

Hey Steve, thank you for taking the time in chatting with us today about your voluntary services for Lord Somers Camp and Powerhouse!

Firstly, can you please give us a character description in 25 words or less?

I'm engaging, charismatic, empathetic, possessing a high energetic zest for life and contagious laugh.

When was your first memory of every volunteering your time to do something for someone?

Eddie’s Van Food in Year 8. I attended Parade College, a Catholic Boys in Bundoora for the first few years of secondary schooling. As part of our community service, we had a choice of participating in a few volunteer projects. Every second Tuesday a group of us would drive to Heidelberg Heights in the early morning and cook up a big breakfast for the residents of the government housing. Many of the people who lived there were refugees from Africa. It was a very refreshing start to the morning.

What encourages you to offer your time in giving to communities in need?

I come from a migrant family, my grandparents arrived in Australia from Greece and Italy after the second world war. Their mission was to provide a better life and opportunity for their families and to life in a safe and prosperous community. I’m first generation Australian who has had a very loving upbringing. I want to be able to give minority communities in Australia the opportunity to live a fruitful life in Australia too. It would be hard to feel isolated. 

Who are Lord Somers?

Lord Somers Camp and Power House is a small organisation in the not-for-profit sector. They’re supported by a network of 1,400 members and volunteers. Their services include many camps, programs and activities held in inner and outer Melbourne and Somers campsite in Victoria. Their programs are about creating fun, friendship, care, acceptance and belonging. They also achieve significant social impact, leadership capabilities, empowerment, engagement, well-being and community development.

What do they support?

The organisation supports and organises a number of programs including Youth Development, Community, Life-Long Learning and Positive Ageing Programs.

What’s something unique that you can tell me about their organisation?

Good question, it would have to be their network of enthusiastic volunteers. I’ve attended 3 camps and have met new people every time. It’s great way to meet like-minded people.

What volunteering work will you be doing with them this year?

This year I’m attending my fourth ATLAS Camp (Formally known as SailAway). ATLAS is a phenomenal weekend camp for teenagers from a refugee background. Volunteers run a thrilling weekend of activities and entertainment that aim to help participants build self-confidence, share in cultural exchange, make new friends, have a go at new experiences and feel a sense of belonging to the Somers community. It’s a great way to learn about Australia’s multicultural way of life and it’s a great opportunity to meet inspiring people.  I’m Chef De Cuisine at this coming camp, my role is to head up the kitchen, organise the menu and cook for the participants and staff. Cannot Wait!

How did you get involved?

My sister Julia attended Lady Somers Camp when she was in year 12 back in 2010 and has been an active member since then. She suggested that I join her for Sailaway a couple of years ago and since then I’ve attended 4.

Tell us, do you expect these voluntary hours to potentially lead to bigger opportunities?

Of course, when the participants leave the camp feeling like they’ve achieved something positive and feel a sense of belonging, it’s great. I’d love for them to enthusiastically share their experiences with friends and other people in their community who then would seek interest in attending the next camp.

What other organisations do you volunteer your time to during the year?

ATLAS is held twice a year and is currently the only program which I’m volunteering. However, I’ve looked at a few other camps held in the second half of this year which I’d like to commit my time too.

Do you find it rewarding, even though many people are time constraint these days?

Yes I do. I have a very busy schedule Monday to Friday, so when it comes to the weekend I like to unwind. When I return from these camps I find myself feeling refreshed, it’s great.

What do you say to those who say ‘but I don’t have enough time?’

 Nothing, because I don’t want to waste my time convincing them.

And steve one last thing – what would we find you doing, if you weren’t volunteering your time? 

I’m a Financial Adviser, so I work with individuals, couples and families and help them make smart financial decisions. It’s important for me to truly understand my client’s circumstances, needs, desires and goals before I assist them with a Financial Plan. I enjoy seeing clients gain the confidence to make informed decisions so they can get on with enjoying the things that matter most to them. I also enjoy playing golf and tennis, going to the footy and socialising with friends.

Thank you

Sarah Long