Celebrating International Volunteer Day 2021 with Vinnies volunteer, Linda

Each year, 5 December marks International Volunteer Day – a day when the international community celebrates the tireless work of volunteers all over the world. This year, we sat down with one of our dedicated volunteers, Linda.
05 Dec 2021
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Each year, 5 December marks International Volunteer Day – a day when the international community celebrates the tireless work of volunteers all over the world. This year, we sat down with one of our dedicated volunteers, Linda, who is making an impact in her local community.

Linda has been a volunteer at Vinnies since 2020. Since then, she has dedicated much of her time and energy to helping others. 

Linda’s journey with Vinnies began in 2019 when she turned to Vinnies for support at Louise House – a community support hub on the Central Coast. At the time, Linda was struggling with anxiety and depression, and had just been diagnosed with Chondromalacia – a degenerative condition that affects the joints, causing severe pain and restrictions in movement.

“When I found Louise House, I wasn’t coping very well – I had just lost my father and recently been diagnosed with Chondromalacia. I started at the centre as a participant in a women's wellness program. I started going there every week as part of my self-care routine, and it was there that I learnt the importance of self-care," she says.

Suffering agonising pain at times, it was self-care and determination that helped Linda deal with her diagnosis and continue doing the things she loved. “It's a degenerative condition, and unfortunately, I have to learn to live with it. I don't want it to define me.”

“Twelve months after joining Louise House, and after finishing the wellness course, I felt there was something more I needed to be doing. That’s when I asked about being a volunteer at Louise House. 

“I was made to feel very welcome and soon after, Colin and Mel [who work at Louise House] asked me if I would help to facilitate programs…I couldn't say no."

Combining her love of crafts and helping others, Linda started facilitating the centre’s Sit ‘n Knit program – a skill-based yarn program for women experiencing social isolation in the community.

“[When I started volunteering] I walked in there with the intention of sharing what I had learnt with other women who were in a similar position to me… maybe a similar mindset that I was in. It was just a wonderful opportunity and a learning curve for me; to go in there, and then share what I had learnt, back with the community. I felt like I could really make a difference because I wasn’t just teaching these women crochet or knitting skills, but life-skills – skills I had learnt in the wellness program.”

Despite facing her own challenges, Linda found great strength in volunteering and helping those vulnerable around her. 

“Quite a few of the ladies taking part in the Sit ‘n Knit program knew me from before, and they were kind of relieved because there was a sense of familiarity. Many of them were like ‘ok, we know this person, we know what she’s like – she’s one of us.’ So, I had already built a rapport with some of the other clients that were there, which helped me transition into my new teaching role.”

When asked who inspires her, Linda says she draws the most inspiration from the ‘ordinary’ people she comes across in her day-to-day life. 

“I think we often overlook the ordinary people around us, those who have been through so much and still carry on. Ordinary people are underestimated, and I think we need to just stop and be grateful for those little interactions that we have with the ordinary, everyday people. We've all got little hidden gems inside of us.”

Image Caption: Louise House volunteer, Linda, holding up a bag she knitted as part of the Sit ‘n Knit program.