Celebrating our volunteers
Celebrating our volunteers
16 May 2022
This week (16-22 May), we celebrate National Volunteer Week, and the immeasurable contribution volunteers make to a wide range of causes, from charities and churches to sport, medical, community and disaster relief programs. Over the past year, the Salvos had more than 22,000 volunteers who gave more than 7.8 million volunteer hours of their time.
Salvos volunteers come from various cultures and backgrounds; serve in cities, regional areas, and remote locations; and share their skills, time, and hearts to bring hope and dignity to those in need. This army of volunteers makes a physical, emotional and spiritual difference in the lives and communities of the people they serve. Many of those served become volunteers themselves and go on to change the lives of others.
If you’re interested in volunteering for the Salvos, like Beth in our story below, go to salvationarmy.org.au/get-involved/volunteer-with-us/
Volunteer Beth one of the Salvos’ unsung heroes
Beth has volunteered for the Salvos for 40 years, and she has not finished yet! The day she spoke with us about her service was her ‘day off’, but she was busy sorting donated board games to take into her local Salvos Family Store in Wagga Wagga where she volunteers.
Beth’s contact with the Salvos began in the late 1960s, just after her first marriage. Her husband was in the Air Force and posted to Darwin, but Beth couldn’t join him until they had accommodation. He approached the Salvos, who said they could use a little cottage if they fixed it up. Beth’s husband and his ‘mates’ did just that, and the connection went from there.
“We later moved into one of the Salvos flats,” shares Beth. “We were involved with the Salvos youth, went to events and get-togethers, and helped them out on weekends.
“My husband was then posted to Townsville, and I went to the Salvos and got involved with their Home League (women’s outreach group). We also helped with fundraising, street stalls, and fetes for the church building.”
The family, which now included a baby girl, moved to Ayr (90km south-east of Townsville) when Beth’s husband left the Air Force.
“I again approached the Salvos and went to Home League,” shares Beth. “We helped set up family stores, which were just beginning then in the late 1970s. I remember one of the young Salvo officers (pastors) would put his pet carpet snake in the back shed at night, which was where we sorted clothes, to deal with a plague of mice we had there!”
Beth and the other young volunteer mums would sort clothes and goods and look after each other’s children, so everyone was able to “get out and do their bit”.
Sadly, Beth’s marriage collapsed, and she returned home to Wagga Wagga with her two young children. “I was upset and went to the Salvos, joined Home League, and again started helping to set up the family stores,” said Beth. “It helped me make friends and get back into the community, and I have been there ever since.”
Beth has now remarried and continues to volunteer four days a week, mainly sorting toys. She also has her “playroom” at home, where she adds missing pieces to board games so they can be sold “for a good price” at the store.
“The Salvos helped us originally, and it was greatly appreciated,” explains Beth. “I got to know different people, too, in a new place where I didn’t know anyone.
“In the Wagga store, we are all one big family, and we often stop and have a chat. If you’re looking for friendship, it’s a good place to come.
“So many organisations wouldn’t exist without volunteers.”
As well as her volunteering with the Salvos, Beth also finds time to serve as secretary for the Wagga Wagga and District Highland Pipe Band and look after her precious grandchildren. She also attends special events at the Wagga Wagga Salvos.