20 years of volunteering celebrated by Very Special Kids

June Woods, 87-year-old Malvern resident, started volunteering for children’s charity Very Special Kids in 1998, and has spent the last 20 years of her life dedicating much of her time to raising funds.

Very Special Kids cares for children with life-threatening conditions by providing a children’s hospice and professional family support services. They help more than 900 families across Victoria with ongoing support from diagnosis all the way through to bereavement.

In April, June received a very well deserved yet unexpected Order of Australia medal recognising her amazing efforts and unwavering dedication.

“I was completely overwhelmed to be honest, I was so surprised because I think a lot of other people deserve it to be honest. It really was an amazing moment” June describes humbly.

June was an artist and art teacher for many years at the gallery, Malvern Artists’ Society. Her involvement with Very Special Kids began in 1998 with a friend telling her about Very Special Kids, and asking if she would be interested in running an art exhibition.

“I ran the exhibition, “Friends Gallery”, for 10-years raising over $200,000 for Very Special Kids. I loved knowing that it went straight towards supporting the families” said June.

After a successful 10-years June and her fellow group members responsible for the exhibition, became involved with the annual Very Special Kids Fair, running their own stall called Art4Kids selling hand-made art and craft items, such as quilts, baby toys and clothing.

In 2016 June received a special community service award for the contribution Art4Kids had made to Very Special Kids. For her 80th birthday June even organised for friends to donate to Very Special Kids in lieu of birthday gifts.

“I think Very Special Kids is a very unique organisation, I think supporting the family is just as important as supporting the child, particularly the siblings, and it does both. I have 12 grandchildren and I really relate to that holistic support. All of my family also support the Fair and used to come to all the sales and art shows” explains June.

“There were about 400 families being supported when I first started with Very Special Kids, sadly the need has grown with over 900 now. I’ve been so grateful to have the opportunity to support it and make friends along the way.”

Very Special Kids provides three volunteer programs. People can choose to work directly with children and families by becoming a trained Family Services Volunteer or assist with fundraising and administration work as part of their Friends Volunteer group.  They also have opportunities for Corporate Volunteering.

In 2017 Very Special Kids was awarded Volunteering Victoria’s 2017 Excellence Award recognising their unique and highly successful volunteering program.

“I would say volunteering has been one of the most joyful experiences of my life. I have gained more than I have given, and I really mean that – both in friendship and in understanding.”

Very Special Kids is incredibly thankful for the support of June Woods and celebrated her efforts at their Annual Appreciation Event for National Volunteer Week where June received her 20-year service award.

If you are interested in volunteering at Very Special Kids, information and training sessions are held throughout the year. Click here to find out more.

June Woods