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Mission Champions Licia and Vitoria

Mission Champions Licia and Vitoria

12 May 2019

We spoke to Vitoria Silva about how her mum Licia inspired her to join the volunteer team at one of Sacred Heart Mission’s op shops, despite both of them being at very different stages of their lives. 

The mum and daughter duo (pictured) both volunteer at St Kilda’s op shop on Grey Street where, for more than a year, they have loved merchandising the store and welcoming customers.

After seeing how much her mum Licia enjoyed the retail work, Vitoria, who is studying Engineering and Design at University, now volunteers on the weekends.

“I’ve always loved op shops and when I saw how happy working there and being able to make a difference made Mum, I signed up to volunteer too, with her right behind me,” Vitoria says.

“Her happiness was contagious.

“With Mother’s Day coming up I was thinking about how very important Mum is to me and I remembered how she encouraged me to join her at the op shop last year. Our schedules so far have been different, so we haven’t been able to work shifts together yet, but we are hoping to be able to soon. That will make our time there even better.”

Vitoria enjoys working on the counter most because she gets to talk with many different people and sees the unique things they find after they have been searching for a long time.

“I love the ‘re-purposing’ that comes from finding pre-loved items at op shops. I also love that Mum’s whole perspective on pre-loved items has changed since she started work at the shop. She’s now almost as passionate about finding new uses for things as I am,” she says.

“I think this side of the op shop fascinates me because of my engineering studies. It’s just great to see previously discarded items customers find at the op shop being used again.

“It’s true that one person’s trash is another’s treasure.”

Her mum Licia, who was a practicing doctor before immigrating to Australia from Brazil, was searching for a way to satisfy her need to care for people and give something back to her new country when she walked past the Mission’s op shop one day with her husband.

“My children have grown up, but I still have so much to give,” Licia says.

“That day, it was as if the op shop found me! I was just hanging out with my husband and suddenly I decided to go into the shop to ask them about working there.

“After I enquired at the op shop that day I went home and applied on the internet. Six hours later I got my answer. I knew then that this was the right time for me and that this work was the answer to my search.

“I love all the work I do at the op shop but my favourite task is arranging the children’s section.”

Licia says, with joy in her voice, “Working at the op shop fulfills my heart. I want to give back to the community and help people in need. Also, I just love it there.

“It’s also wonderful my daughter works here too. It makes us closer and I have even learned why she is so keen on finding new uses for pre-loved things.”

Both women sang the praises of the other staff at the shop, especially Pete, the manager.

Licia has never felt as valued for the work she does as she does now at the op shop, and Vitoria too feels appreciated and supported throughout her time there.

“Our manager is just priceless,” Licia says.

Vitoria agreed and added, “Yes, the manager and the other staff are terrific; we have made some good friends. It’s also lovely to talk with the regular customers and to get to know them a little.”

“It’s so good working there that I’m sad if there is a day that I can’t do my shift. It’s great to be able to have fun, feel appreciated and know that we’re helping people in need at the same time.”

This Mother’s Day will also be a special one Licia and Vitoria as they welcome Licia’s first grandchild and Vitoria’s brand new niece to their family. 

What do volunteers at Sacred Heart Mission's op shops do?

  • Volunteers help with selling goods, sorting and replenishing stock, and serving customer

Why volunteer at a Sacred Heart Mission op shop?

  • The Mission’s op shops provide 30 per cent of Sacred Heart Mission’s total income
  • This income is vital and means the Mission can continue to provide services to people in need
  • Volunteering at an op shop helps to develop customer service and retail skills
  • It’s fun at the same time as being fulfilling and worthwhile; and
  • It can even be a great mother/daughter experience - as it is for Licia and Vitoria

Volunteer with us 

If you would like to have some fun, learn a couple of new skills, and raise money to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community at the same time, find out ways you can volunteer here. 

More about our volunteering program

Sacred Heart Mission acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal owners of country throughout Victoria and pays respects to them, their culture and their elders past, present and emerging.


Sacred Heart Mission believes that the diversity of abilities, genders, sexualities, relationship identities, bodies and cultures in our community enriches us all and should be celebrated. Everyone is welcome at our table.