Meet our Change Makers!
This National Volunteer Week (NVW), we are SHINEing a light on a few of the amazing volunteers working with us to make positive change in young people’s lives in keeping with this year’s NVW theme, ‘The Change Makers’.
Meet Ellie – Change Maker
Stand as One volunteer mentor Ellie is passionate about helping young people in the criminal justice system and breaking the cycle of reoffending by supporting their reintegration into the community. A proud First Nations woman, we are so lucky to have someone so knowledgeable in the field working with us, with Ellie holding a Bachelor of Aboriginal Professional Practice and studying a Bachelor of Business & Law.
A conversation with her father sparked Ellie’s interest in mentoring. He was relaying a story to her about his adolescence in a ‘boys home’ and how he didn’t have a positive role model, someone to lean on during his formative years. He believes this would have made all the difference in his early trajectory.
So Ellie put her father’s words into action and signed up to mentor at Frank Baxter Youth Justice Centre, and the rest is history.
Ellie has been making a difference in the lives of the First Nations young people she supports in the Stand As One program for the past five years!
As a mentor, Ellie says she supports the young people she works with to find their inner strength and resilience so that they can get through the tough stuff that they are often faced with.
Ellie believes the Stand as One program has excellent outcomes because it is voluntary for both the mentors and young people, “The boys know I am here because I choose to be, and I know that they are participating because they are ready to make changes in their lives”.
As a mentor, Ellie’s main job is to be on the young people’s ‘team’. She advocates for them during interactions with police and at case conferences, accompanies them to appointments in the community, and is always there when they need someone to talk with.
She also helps them to uncover and focus on their personal skills and strengths, be that art, basketball, football, reading and writing, music … whatever helps them stay motivated and positive about the future and what it could bring them.
One of the young people she is currently working with is an aspiring football player and was recently offered a traineeship with a professional NRL club upon discharge from custody! Our very proud Stand As One manager Tanya said of this, “When this determined, talented young person achieves his goal of playing in the NRL, Ellie will be in the crowd proudly cheering him on.”
When appropriate, Ellie also supports young people to establish stronger links with their families to have that vital family support when they transition back into the community and culture.
Ellie’s mentees say they value having someone who takes the time to listen and really understand their world, doesn’t tell them what to do, doesn’t dismiss their feelings, and has the knowledge and skills to help them when they need it most.
Ellie is a volunteer in the Stand As One program
Story by Tanya Macfie
Meet Janelle – Change Maker
Working with vulnerable young people in the SFK Mentoring program in Victoria is a passion for Janelle, one of our newest volunteers!
While volunteering is new for Janelle, working with young people is not. She has visited schools for many years as a dental nurse and is currently completing her Diploma in Youth Work.
Janelle says that she’s often played a supportive role in her personal life so being a mentor felt like a natural step, with friends and family frequently coming to her for advice.
Her first experiences as a mentor have been wonderful so far. Janelle has spent time getting to know her mentee, Valerie* a teenage girl she describes as “lovely and easy to get along with”.
Together they have been working on increasing Valerie’s school attendance and building her confidence. Janelle is finding the work rewarding and enjoying being a positive and involved adult role model in Valerie’s life.
While still early days, the two have already formed a good relationship and even share an interest in boxing, an activity Janelle is encouraging Valerie to pursue to help her make new friends her own age and do something active.
When she heard about SHINE for Kids, she jumped at the chance to mentor a young person and give back to the community by doing something rewarding.
She says of working with SHINE, “It’s a great organisation. Everyone that I’ve spoken to is lovely and has the best interests of the kids at heart. It’s all about them and what you can do to make it better for them.
The girl I work with hasn’t had the chance to do anything apart from excursions from when she was in school, she hasn’t experienced a lot of things, just normal things that you take for granted.
I think it’s great giving kids a bit of an opportunity to have these new experiences and give them something to look forward to.”
Janelle is looking forward to supporting Valerie to get her licence, increase her school attendance and start thinking about practical pursuits for when she finishes high school.
And of course, many more activities and time spent together having fun!
Janelle is a volunteer in our SFK Mentoring program
Join the team! Express your interest in volunteering and find out more about opportunities in your local area, email us at [email protected] today.
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