Celebrating our volunteers this National Volunteer Week
This week is National Volunteer Week, and with the theme for 2022 being ‘Better Together’, this is an opportunity to celebrate the incredible impact volunteers make in bringing people together, connecting with their community and helping The Salvation Army deliver on its mission to transform lives.
The Salvation Army is incredibly grateful for and proud of our 21,570 volunteers who are actively working to support those in need and build stronger communities. Together, they contribute 28 million hours every year to help others, and if we were to put a monetary value on their contribution, it would be an estimated $260 million per year. So, it’s fair to say, we couldn’t do half of what we do without the support of these amazing people.
For many who volunteer with us, they are not only giving of themselves for others, but also finding personal fulfillment in many ways – be it through new friendships and connections, professional development, or an improved sense of self-worth and wellbeing.
As a volunteer with Goulburn Salvos, where the corps provides a community food market, Suzie believes volunteering is something people need in their life.
“I started volunteering here probably 18 months ago, and it’s just a joyful place to be. We work together as a team, we laugh, we have fun. I’m able to get up in the morning and I’ve got something to do. It’s something that I will do even after I retire soon and I’m going to keep on volunteering.”
Breathing life into the Salvos mission
Volunteers dedicate their time and efforts in almost all areas of The Salvation Army across Australia. Hailing from all nations and all age groups, our volunteers can be found working in local corps, AOD, homelessness and youth services, Salvos Stores; Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES), emergency relief, financial counselling, Indigenous coaching programs, motorcycle ministry, collecting donations for the Red Shield Appeal, and so much more.
This week, we celebrate our volunteers for the way they have come alongside and cared for vulnerable people by serving meals, providing welfare support for those doing it tough, and a blanket and warm smile for those living on the streets.
We celebrate the work they do in Family Stores and Salvos Stores, where they not only raise money that enables The Salvation Army to serve those in need, but also connect with community members and provide a listening ear, conversation and friendship.
We are grateful to passionate people like Dell, who has volunteered at the Broken Hill Family Store for almost three decades. Dell started volunteering when she was experiencing a “significant time” in her life and was encouraged by a friend to try volunteering at the Salvos. Dell says she took up the opportunity and has been there ever since.
When asked to describe her volunteering experience in one word, Dell says, “lifesaving”. The other volunteers in her team have their own words – “friendship” says one, “togetherness” says another. Fellow volunteer, Grant says, “entertaining”. With many having volunteered for decades, everyone agrees that the team’s stability is due to being consistent, feeling valued and appreciated. They are “all there for each other,” says Grant.
The priceless gift of time
The Salvation Army’s chief secretary, Colonel Winsome Merrett has given thanks for the priceless contribution made by our army of volunteers this National Volunteer Week in a special message.
“This week graces us with the space to stop, reflect and give thanks for our volunteers who have brought who they are to the mission of The Salvation Army. The coming together of different people from all walks of life, each with their own strengths, talents, and gifts, represents the meaning of this year’s theme ‘Better Together’.
“Whether we are facing a pandemic, floods or fighting injustice, we are better and we are stronger when united in our purpose. It is this camaraderie and unity that has maximised The Salvation Army’s capacity to meet the increased need across Australia.
“2022 began with record breaking floods ravaging Queensland and NSW, leaving homes and businesses in ruins. Our Salvation Army Strategic Emergency and Disaster Management teams, largely made up of volunteers, have been supporting disaster-affected communities, serving meals, helping in evacuation sites and recovery hubs, providing material aid, financial and emotional support.
“The need for Salvation Army services and support is ongoing, and we could never achieve our mission and transform lives with practical expressions of the love of Jesus without the dedicated support of our incredible army of volunteers.
“For all that you do and all that you are, I thank you…Happy National Volunteer Week.”
If you would like to get involved and help transform lives in your community through volunteering with The Salvation Army, visit our volunteering page for current opportunities.
“I volunteer because I love people, I’m interacting with people, and I like to get out and talk to people. The team’s fantastic … I just love it here.” – Alex, volunteer at Salvos Stores Marrickville.