Volunteering changed my life
Volunteering changed my life
I knew about The Salvation Army because my mum used to go there when we were kids, but I hadn’t been for years.
I saw on Facebook they had advertised $10 food hampers, so I put my name down for one. I came in for it, but the truck had just come and the hampers weren’t ready, so mum and I volunteered to help pack them. So, we packed them, and I liked it, and I just thought, “I want to volunteer.”[Two years previously], I had been thrown in jail. There was no evidence to convict me because I didn’t do it, and I can sit here and say I didn’t do it, but only God knows. I spent nine months in jail.
My twins were three months old when I went to jail and I gave birth to my son two weeks before I got out of jail – it was by caesarean and he almost died. It’s a pretty horrible kind of story. Just after I got out of jail, my brother died. [Two months later] my nan died as well, and then three months later my uncle died.
It could either make or break me. I had lost my faith in God, the whole lot. We had lost everything. We were homeless, living at my mum’s house. And then, about four weeks after my brother died, I was offered a house. We ended up back together, all my kids, and we were a family again!
But we struggled. When I went to pick up that hamper, I was at a real crossroads in my life. I was thinking, “What do I do? Do I hate everybody and be really bitter and let this take me down a path of bitterness? Or do I try something different?”
And then came the volunteering opportunity.
It started just with two days and then I ended up volunteering full-time, five days a week. I felt like I needed to set an example for my kids. I thought, “I can be that mum that sits at home and cleans the house and does nothing ... or I can be that mum that gets off my butt, goes and does things to help others.” You don’t have to be paid to do something. You can do things because you want to help. You can do things because you want to make a difference.
Since volunteering at the Salvos and going to the Salvos church and being mentored, everything’s just different. When I first came in, I was really rough around the edges. Every second word was a swear word. Now, my whole world is different! The way I think of things is different, the way I react to things is different. Before, if something little happened, I probably would have been angry and carried on about it, but now, it’s just like, “Don’t worry about it, we can fix it, whatever.”
Eighteen months ago, if you had said to me that you’re going to become a soldier of The Salvation Army and sign a covenant that says – ‘Having accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord, and desiring to fulfil the mission of God he has for me and his Church here on earth as a soldier of The Salvation Army, I now by God's grace enter into a sacred covenant’ – I would have told you that you’re an idiot! Becoming a soldier has given me more of a purpose. I’ve just gone from strength to strength. I love what I’m doing. I love volunteering, I just love helping people.
* This week is National Volunteer Week. To find out more about volunteering at The Salvation Army, head to: salvationarmy.org.au/volunteer