The generosity of giving time

Volunteering is an integral part of Very Special Kids’ service delivery and fundraising model. More than 615 Family Service and Friends fundraising volunteers and an additional 412 temporary and corporate volunteers generously give their time.

Family Service Volunteers assist in four different ways: in the family home; when the child is admitted to hospital; when the child is at Very Special Kids Hospice; and by participating in program activities, such as Sibling Days. Every Family Service Volunteer completes extensive training to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to support families who have a child with a life-threatening condition.

The Friends Volunteers are involved in areas such as fundraising, administration, gardening and maintenance. The Friends Volunteers organise events throughout the year, including the annual Fair and also play a major role in the Piggy Bank Appeal by visiting Victorian communities on the Piggy Trails. The role of the temporary and corporate volunteers is to provide administration and practical fundraising support.

One of these volunteers is Mary Connell, who has generously given her time to Very Special Kids since 2014 as both a Family Services Volunteer and a Friends Volunteer.

Family Services Volunteer

Mary has been linked with the Grills family since 2015.  She supports the family in their home, visiting every Thursday, with the main focus being spending time with six-year-old Abbey, who has an undiagnosed neurological condition.  As a retired nurse and mid-wife she likes that she can spend quality time with someone in need, rather than be their health professional.

“I certainly enjoy volunteering with the family, I really love spending time with Abbey.  I have become quite attached to her and her younger five-year-old brother Jacob. I know their mother Claire really appreciates the break she gets when I am there with them” said Mary.

Although Mary started out as a Friends Volunteer, she knew this is what would suit her best explaining “I knew right from the beginning I wanted to do something that was hands on. Which is why the Family Services Volunteering is perfect for me, I get a lot of satisfaction in doing that. I feel like I am making a difference and being helpful.”

Mary also regularly attends Sibling Days to assist the Family Support Team and spend time with other children, and she also provides emergency cover when needed too.

Friends Volunteer

Mary spent her first year volunteering with Very Special Kids through fundraising activities like the Fashion Sale, Fair as well as administration duties like mail outs.  She enjoyed the time she spent doing this and especially meeting other volunteers.

Mary explains that being able to have a choice in which area you volunteer in is extremely valuable, “we have the option and choice with Very Special Kids to do the volunteering role that suits us. It’s broad and Very Special Kids is great because it offers you the opportunity to do hands on work and you receive excellent training to prepare for it.”

Very Special Kids is extremely grateful for its volunteers and the time they contribute.

“I can’t see myself not volunteering with Very Special Kids anymore, I have made so many strong connections through doing so” Mary said.