At the age of 87, Judy has been volunteering for over 25 years. “I started down at the Grey St op shop in St Kilda. I don’t know how I first heard about the Mission but it’s been a great time,” she says.
Friday is volunteer day for Judy, who you’ll find amongst the book section of our Chapel Street Op Shop. “Friday is a sacred day for me. No one in my family would dare ask me to do anything on a Friday. They know better!” Judy laughs.
“I originally worked the counter, but then I broke my hip, and when I came back, I thought that wouldn’t be so suitable. So, I got a hold of the books, that’s a big love for me and I really enjoy sorting them.” Judy is an enormous help to the store, sorting, pricing and organising our book section – as book donations are plentiful.
“I love reading. I’ve always got a handful of books on hand to keep myself busy at home. We get books by the box load. When it’s a family who send in a whole collection that’s been in the garage for 20 years, you never know what you’re going to get. So that’s a bit like opening presents at Christmas.”
A lot has changed at the Mission since Judy started as a volunteer. “They’ve expanded enormously in the range of services. I was just reading the other day about how they’ve altered the old primary school and making it into residential care. What a great idea. The Mission seems to always be looking forward to what is the need in the community and not just doing everything. They are very tuned into what the big needs are.”
“One of the things that really impressed me about the Mission back when I first started was the diversity. Young and old. We have people from all situations, I thought that was wonderful for the staff and for the Mission.”
Volunteering can be difficult to fit into our busy lives, but it is beneficial for both – people in need in our community and to volunteers themselves. Our volunteers cite friendships, feelings of connection, being involved in the community, the ability to share your expertise with others and learn new skills as reasons to volunteer. “Over the years I’ve made some good friends.” Judy says.
Trish Williams, manager of Sacred Heart Mission’s Prahran op shop on Chapel Street, only has kind words to say about Judy. “I first met Judy when I started at Chapel Street over 15 years ago. She used to be on the register in those days. From day one, Judy was very welcoming, interested in everyone and always showed a keen interest in how the shop was going. She welcomes everyone here, makes new volunteers feel comfortable. She is very compassionate, worldly and great to be around. We all love Judy.”
Every Friday at the Chapel Street store, the staff and volunteers gather around to play the trivia quizzes in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. With Judy being a star player, “It gets very competitive, but it makes us a closer team. It helps, being connected to each other, staff and other volunteers.”
Judy has had some health issues that she thought would set her volunteering time back, but instead have been embraced. “I got a pacemaker a couple of years ago; I’ve had a couple of breaks when I’ve had health issues like the hip business. Trish had to really pester me to come back after I broke my hip but when I say pester me, she wouldn’t just let me fade away. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Staying on and on and on, just putting the dots on the books and write the prices on. I still feel welcomed, that’s the thing.”
We are so grateful to have volunteers like Judy in our stores, her contribution to the Mission through her time, her personality and her quick wit is immeasurable. “I always feel that it’s worthwhile being here.”
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