In October 2019, Ricardo Sebastian wandered into Sacred Heart Mission’s op shop on High Street in Preston. “I remember the welcoming atmosphere, the attractive displays, the neat and tidy layout. I also noticed the posters calling for volunteers.”
A few weeks later he had his first shift as a volunteer.
Ricardo is a passionate volunteer and appreciates how op shops contribute to the circular economy by recycling donated goods. Feeling connected to Sacred Heart Mission’s values and part of a dedicated team have contributed to his enjoyment and success as a volunteer.
“My values are aligned with the Mission, of working for social justice and helping people who have not been fortunate. It’s close to my heart. [The Mission] inspires like-minded people to volunteer with compassion and commitment,” Ricardo says.
In recognition of his dedication to volunteering, positive contribution to the team and outstanding customer service skills, Ricardo was one of the recipients of Sacred Heart Mission’s Volunteer Awards.
Preston’s Store Coordinator, Adrienne Fahey, says Ricardo’s personality lifts the whole team and that she often receives feedback about his outstanding customer service from shoppers.
Always ready to offer a helping hand, Ricardo has covered all kinds of tasks at the shop, but especially enjoys visual merchandising.
“You can show off your creativity,” he says, “I believe it contributes to a good shopping experience.”
As a volunteer, Ricardo has also made meaningful social connections.
“It’s an inclusive and supportive environment. You develop a special camaraderie and we definitely have fun. We share good conversations and occasionally some impromptu music and dance.”
When the pandemic forced all the op shops to close, Ricardo missed spending time with his team.
During the lockdowns in 2020, Ricardo also had a health scare which required intensive physiotherapy and he was worried he wouldn’t be able to return as a volunteer. He says this desire to reunite with the team helped him through this difficult time.
Ricardo is proud of the Preston op shop and shared this heartfelt advice to anyone who is interested in getting involved as a volunteer:
“Sacred Heart Mission give a proper orientation, mentor us and help monitor our progress and give us more responsibility. Volunteers come with different capacities and abilities and the staff nurture whatever you can contribute. Slowly, they encourage you to develop. Give it a go, it’s hard to be disappointed.”
Are you interested volunteering at our op shops? It’s a great way to develop new skills while connecting with our community! Learn more and apply here:
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