MATES

MATES make a difference

Life changing stories from our MATES Mentoring Program.

Stephanie and Maureen

Both mentors and mentees get a lot out of the program.  Being in her 70’s and never having had children of her own, ‘Maureen’ was quite apprehensive at the start to be matched with a teenager!  Maureen often says she feels she gets more out of being with Stephanie than she gives.  Having never been married or had her own children, Maureen always beams when talking about Stephanie and their mentoring relationship. She often talks about how much she has learnt about a younger generation from her relationship with Stephanie.  Maureen is a wonderful positive role model for Stephanie. She is involved in so many committees and volunteers her time to so many causes.

Maureen and Stephanie enjoy volunteering at the ‘Driver Reviver Roadside Coffee stop.’  Here they work together making coffee for travellers passing by.  Stephanie enjoys this immensely and Maureen has happily taken Stephanie’s sister along, for this activity.  Stephanie says “Maureen is like my grandma. She is very caring and she takes what she does seriously, especially volunteering. I look up to her, she’s inspiring and like my best friend.  I could talk to her about anything and I trust her completely.  Maureen has encouraged me to do so many things I would never have done before which I am so grateful for. Without Maureen in my life I would still be really shy, wouldn’t trust many people and still be disorganised!”

Tony and Mandy

‘Mandy’ mentors ‘Tony’ and she has opened up a whole new world for him. Tony has learning difficulties and leads a very sheltered life. When Mandy entered his world everything opened up for Tony.  Mandy created opportunities for Tony to experience activities that he had only ever dreamt of.  He desperately wanted to learn how to fish, so Mandy organised a member of the local angling club to take them both out fishing. They caught four fish and finished the day off with a family BBQ. That day, Tony went fishing for the first time, caught his first fish and had his maiden voyage in a boat.  On one occasion, Mandy had taken Tony to play tennis. She had her husband be the ball boy so they wouldn’t waste their precious hour chasing the ball. While there, Tony noticed the bowling green but he didn’t know what lawn bowls was. Mandy went beyond the call of duty and had the Ladies President of the Bowling Club give them both lessons on the green.

(Names of mentors and mentees in this article have been changed to protect the privacy of participants.)

Expanding Horizons

MATES – Expanding Horizons

Life changing stories from our MATES Mentoring Program.

Shane and Mark

‘Shane’ was a young man who had plenty of challenges and was enrolled in a school re-engagement program.  He was matched with ‘Mark’, a local business owner with a big heart.  Mark quickly became a significant positive influence on Shane and opened up a new world for him.  Mark took him water-skiing, took an interest in Shane’s participation in football and hosted him for a work experience placement.  Shane asked him for an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic.  After speaking with teachers at Shane’s school, Mark offered him an apprenticeship.  Two years on, Shane is thriving in a positive work environment and is well on his way to becoming a fully qualified mechanic.

Jenny and Wendy

‘Jenny’ was another young person with plenty of challenges in her life.  She lived in a very small town with her single mum and seven siblings.  Jenny was paired with ‘Wendy’.  Wendy is a happy person with an endless positive attitude.  She provided Jenny with plenty of new experiences such as visiting arts performances in Horsham and encouraged her to focus on her completing her secondary education.  With Wendy’s support, Jenny was elected school captain and also won the local Lion’s Club Youth of the Year award.  Jenny also competed in the regional finals of the Lions Public Speaking competition and spoke about the benefits of the mentoring program.  Wendy and Jenny’s mum were proud spectators at the finals.

Luke and Greg

‘Greg’ and 16 year old ‘Luke’ are a newly made match, meeting each other in May, although it is almost like Greg and Luke have known each other for years. Luke doesn’t let his ADHD and Asperger’s diagnosis come between their shared love of motors.  Greg and Luke have engaged and developed a strong relationship over the restoration of small engines. Greg is now supporting and coaching Luke towards obtaining his learners permit and has also enrolled to become a L2P mentor in order to take Luke out driving. Since meeting Greg, Luke has been more engaged at school and is setting his mind on a career in the automotive industry. Recently Luke attended a ‘Try-VET’ day participating in a session towards undertaking Certificate 2 in Auto through the VET in schools program. Luke has been so much more focused since being matched with a MATES Mentor and now has the confidence and belief in himself to seek his dream of becoming a mechanic.

(Names of mentors and mentees have been changed to protect the privacy of participants in the mentoring program.)

Win Win Win

Win Win Win!

In the six years that Wimmera Southern Mallee LLEN has been running the Reading Buddies program we have had 200 volunteers from our region support local schools via the program.  The program finds volunteers who listen to children read in a local school for one hour a day, for one or more days a week. The volunteers provide an extra layer of support for our schools and children. But why do people volunteer with the Reading Buddies program?

The program has attracted volunteers from a broad cross-section of our community. We have had:

  • A student teacher, studying an online teaching course, who wanted to get some experience in a school
  • A year 12 student who volunteered during school hours at times when she had no scheduled classes
  • Grandparents of students in the school
  • Grandparents whose grandchildren live interstate, who find that a Reading Buddies fills the gap that they experience by being isolated from their grandchildren
  • Parents of students in the school
  • New arrivals in town who want to make connections with a local community
  • Employees who are able to negotiate flexible work arrangements with their employer to be able to volunteer at a set time during working hours
  • Professionals such as speech pathologists, social workers and occupational therapists who volunteer as part of their employer’s community education program
  • Retirees who love reading and the interaction with young children
  • Secondary students in alternative programs who have been at risk of disengaging from education
  • People who have been in part-time work or unemployed and have wanted to do something useful while they are seeking work
  • Migrants with higher education backgrounds, for whom English is their second language, who have wanted to listen to children read to improve their own language pronunciation.

Volunteering clearly has many benefits for the volunteers. From the list above, we can identify that volunteering:

  • Provides opportunities to gain experience
  • Fills an emotional gap
  • Makes connections with the community
  • Gives satisfaction
  • Provides community education opportunities
  • Is a recreational outlet
  • Gives a sense of purpose
  • Assists with the volunteer’s personal development.

Volunteers usually have a genuine desire to want to make a difference and to contribute to the well-being of our society but an additional key driving factor is what volunteers gain from the experience.

Gaining something from our efforts is a strong motivator to undertake a task. We call it ‘job satisfaction’. We are more inclined to take on a task if we gain satisfaction from it.

Some tasks provide satisfaction from undertaking the task itself, while other tasks are endured for the sake of the end result. One might wash the car, not for the pleasure of the task, but for the satisfaction of having a clean car.

Our Reading Buddies volunteers report that they not only gain satisfaction from the end result, but they actually enjoy the experience of interacting with the children while listening to them read.

This is a win-win-win situation.
The volunteer enjoys the task – win!
The volunteer gains satisfaction from observing the child’s improved reading – win!
The child receives support to develop the vital skill of reading – win!