What was your first volunteer role and how did it come about?I was involved with the Lonnie Surf Life Saving Club. When I was 14, I did my surf rescue course and patrolled at the back beach over summer. I did Nippers when I was growing up and it was just a natural progression to do your surf rescue course and patrol.
What prompted you to become a volunteer?I decided to become a volunteer because I wanted to contribute and give back to the Point Lonsdale community, and in particular the Point Lonsdale Boardriders Club, who had given me so much as a kid. There was an opportunity to take over the running of the club in 2016 with my close friend Jackson Wylie. Jackson and I had been members of the club for most of our lives and we saw it as an opportunity to continue the hard work that had been done before us, and also to implement our own ideas to improve participation and strengthen the Boardriders' position in the community. As a community leader, you take on the role of a role model for the younger members and I hope we can guide them to become contributing members of the community. Unbeknown to my 18-year-old self, the club would become a second family.
What has been the most unexpected benefit you have experienced as a volunteer?As cliche as it sounds, the most unexpected benefit of volunteering is developing a sense of purpose and place in the community.
How do you manage to balance the often contrasting demands on your time as a volunteer?I find that it helps if you have an open line of communication with fellow volunteers, organisers, and committee members. This can be used to discuss how much time you are willing to give and how you are coping with the added commitments. Life throws lots of unexpected events at you; there is always someone who can pick up the slack if you are focusing on more pressing things in your life.
What would you recommend to someone thinking about volunteering?There are many capacities in which you can volunteer. The best way to get your foot in the door is to send an email or ring someone involved in the organisation saying you are keen to get involved and take it from there. Organisations are always looking for volunteers!
How do you manage to juggle the economic dichotomy of running events where people pay to attend, alongside volunteer helpers?In most cases, organisations that you can volunteer for will be not-for-profit. I find that most people are more than happy to volunteer their time in order to help their local club or organisation. In the Boardriders' case, ticketed events make up the biggest proportion of fundraising for the year. The money raised goes back into the club on things like coaching, gear renewal and maintenance of the club's facility. We find that volunteers find a sense of pride in helping improve the services we provide to members and the broader community.