A good start to the day: volunteering with our Breakfast Club
18 January 2018
Sally has been volunteering at our Breakfast Club for three years. Based in Fitzroy, in inner city Melbourne, the club mostly hosts local primary school students. It builds a sense of community, drawing together a mix of people who might not otherwise get a chance to mingle.
At 7.20am on Thursday mornings during school terms, Sally, a publisher and former journalist, arrives at the club to begin setting up. Sally told us about her experience of volunteering with the Brotherhood, in her own words.
How did you hear about the Brotherhood's Breakfast Club?
A friend who I used to work with told me about her job in policy at the Brotherhood of St Laurence. I was interested in volunteering so I asked her about programs in my local area. She enthusiastically talked about the Breakfast Club. The next day she emailed with a connection to the coordinator.
Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to engage in my community. We had just moved to Fitzroy and volunteering seemed the best way to connect to this new area. My children are adults so I have more time in my life and the Breakfast Club hours mean I can join in but still get to work on time.
What you do at the Breakfast Club?
Each day of the week there is a healthy set breakfast. We set up, cook, play games and talk with the kids and parents, clean up and head off to work knowing lots about the lives of the kids in the community.
How have you seen the children benefit from the program?
A nutritious breakfast is a good start to everyone’s day so all the children and any parent who wants breakfast, has that opportunity. But the food is only part of the benefit of the club. Everyone sits and eats together so the kids socialise with a lot of different people of different ages and friendship groups. Parents will sit and eat with the kids, too, as do the volunteers. It is the same in the games room. Different age groups join in, conversations weave across the room; we all deal with winning and losing.
Is there a particular story that springs to mind about your time at the Breakfast Club?
One of the many great things about the Club is the range of children and parents/carers who come, as well as the volunteers. Secondary school students will also often come and eat breakfast and play with the kids, as do police from the local station. One of the policemen is a bit of a whiz with paper planes. He demonstrated his winning design to the kids one morning and there were some serious long-distance flights.
On volunteering generally, why do you think people should give of their time and talent to help others?
It is such a no brainer that we can all give more of ourselves to help others and it is a valuable thing to do personally and for the community. But it is also a truism that the volunteer also gets much from the experience.