“How do you find the time?” – Being a Family Support Volunteer
By Meg Wimmers
“How do you find the time?” This is the first question I get asked each time I tell someone I volunteer for Very Special Kids. Being a mum to two kids under the age of five and working four days a week, I did wonder that myself. But I found that when it came to doing something that I truly cherished, I found the time.
The reason I started volunteering for Very Special Kids could be seen as selfish, in a way. I was looking into a possible career change and my resume really needed a tick in the ‘volunteer experience’ box. I was pointed in the direction of Very Special Kids because of the reputation of their volunteer training program. I walked away from the information evening feeling excited about trying something new. The training sounded intensive but the philosophy and vision of Very Special Kids struck home.
The training program prepares you for the role and all the possible situations you may face. After I completed the program I understood more about my own capabilities and I knew I’d have continual supervision and support in my role. It also taught me some valuable life lessons. One that I value most is the ability to understand the enormity and importance of grief and how it can have such a diverse effect on different people.
I was assigned my family, the Whitnells, and met with Mei, my family support supervisor, who gave me the rundown of my role among them. I was there to support the two older boys, Tye and Axel, whose younger brother, Jett, has a life-threatening condition. The boys are very active, very different to one another and very competitive. I left the meeting feeling nervous and unsure if the boys would benefit from my support.
I remembering knocking on the door for my first solo visit and heard one of the boys yell with excitement “Meg’s here!”. My uncertainty vanished instantly. In my time with the Whitnells we play games, we bake, we draw, we kick the footy and for the whole time I’m there the boys get my undivided attention.
By spending time with the older boys I’m not only giving them some extra attention, I’m also able to give their parents the chance to focus on their own needs. Supporting families like the Whitnells can take so many different forms, and I’m so proud of the small part I can play in easing their unique circumstances.
The Whitnells have a very full schedule running a household with 3 boys. For a few hours on a Sunday, that schedule for Tye and Axel is focused entirely on play. It’s challenging and rewarding, and I can now say I’m a master of gracefully accepting defeat when playing games against 7 and 9 year old boys.
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