Now an employee of The Salvation Army, Shevaun Rhodes talks to Julie Houghton about how volunteering has not only allowed her to give back, but has given her much in return.
What motivated you to become a Salvation Army volunteer?
When I moved to the Mornington Peninsula from Sydney I didn’t really know anyone in the area so I looked for volunteering opportunities where I could meet new people and at the same time make a difference in the local community. The Salvation Army also helped me out when I was a teenager and in a tough place, so I wanted to take the opportunity to give back.
What did it involve?
I started volunteering with the Salvation Army in Frankston for the Red Shield Appeal (RSA) in 2017. Since then I have also volunteered with the Frankston Thrift Shop and the Mornington main street salvos. I’ll soon be helping out Mornington corps (church) with collecting at the Mornington football club gate.
What kind of reactions do you get?
A lot of people who donate mention that they have been helped by the Salvos and that it’s great to be able to give back. Others say what wonderful work the Salvos do and thank me for giving up my time to collect.
What reaction did you get from your friends and family when you decided to volunteer?
My friends and family are now fairly used to getting calls from various volunteering organisations asking for references! They think it’s great that I spend my spare time giving back to the community. Volunteering can be a very varied hobby—i have also volunteered with organisations in animal welfare, environmental conservation and assisting elderly and isolated people in the community.
Why do you think people respond so well to the RSA?
The Salvation Army has a reputation for helping the most vulnerable people within the community and donors want to ensure this continues. People see the salvos as a trusted, professional charity who will use their donations wisely. I think this is important with the increasing number of charities vying for donations.
What do you get back from volunteering?
I’ve made some great new friends and I get a great deal of satisfaction from my ability to help others. One of my favourite things about volunteering with Main Street Salvos is handing out free thongs to girls who are barefoot because they can no longer walk in their high heels at 2 am in the morning! They are just so excited that someone would care enough to give up their Saturday night to be out there making a safe space where they can charge their phone, have a free bottle of water and find someone to talk to.
What is your current role for the Salvos?
I currently work as a lead business analyst helping with the Salvos’ move to a single national territory. I gather and analyse information from across the organisation, then ask challenging questions so the information I present to leadership for decision making purposes lets them understand what is really needed—and why.
Did volunteering make this a natural progression?
Although my volunteering roles aren’t related to the role I took on as an employee, volunteering gave me a good insight into the organisational culture and the passion and commitment of the people here. This definitely made an impact on my decision to become an employee.
What would you say to people thinking of volunteering?
It’s a great way to get to know the local community, develop new skills and a wonderful opportunity to meet some really amazing people. It’s also very rewarding and a great opportunity to contribute to society in a positive way.
National Volunteer Week runs from 21–27 May and is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. To find out more about volunteering with the Salvos, visit salvationarmy.org.au/get-involved/volunteer