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Making a difference through volunteering

At just 23, Cire Reconnect client and FICE volunteer Bella O’Hara has a list of community involvements that would take most people a lifetime to achieve, plus the unwavering passion to match.

Her biggest motivator is her determination to advocate for people with a disability and those with mental health issues, especially men and young people.

“I have been so supported by so many people, I just want to give back as much as I can,’ said Bella, who needs extra learning support, a disability she once loathed but has now embraced so she can be her best self.

Bella’s community work was recently acknowledged in the 2002 Maroondah Youth Awards. She was part of the FReeZA Bassline Productions crew, who were honoured with the Team Award for their contributions to the art, music and cultural event management program.

The award nomination read: Bassline Productions met weekly in 2021 to design, plan and run live music and cultural events in their community. Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the group was forced to continually innovate and persevere, resulting in some of the most creative event ideas in recent years. The group showed teamwork, collaborating to bring these events to life, while also supporting each other in the process. Character strengths demonstrated were creativity, perseverance, and social intelligence.

“It was so exciting to receive the award,” Bella said, adding that she loved meeting and working with others in the team to bring joy and happiness into the lives of others, particularly after the harsh Covid lockdowns and restrictions.

With such an inspiring approach to life and service to the community, it is little wonder that Cire is privileged to have such an inspiring young woman as part of its Reconnect program and helping out at First Impressions Clothing Exchange, unwittingly showing leadership through her service to others, contributing to community and advocacy.

Already a confident young woman with a belief in herself when she “discovered” Cire, Bella said programs like Reconnect and FICE had helped put her on a positive pathway to employment and relevant skills.

“I feel much more confident about what the future holds,” said Bella, who has shared her Cire experience in the following interview with her Reconnect case worker Sarah Kilgour as well as with FICE co-ordinator Renee Cook in the most recent FICE newsletter.

A young woman who has the courage to create her own opportunities, Bella would love to work in disability or retail and, through whatever she does, tell the story about having a disability.

“If you have a disability, live life in the moment and don’t ever give up… I don’t look like I have a disability, I am a very slow learner and need extra support, but  I am very independent…I used to dislike my disability, but I now embrace it, not fight it. It is so important to find the right support and a good support agency and to believe in yourself”.

Click here for further information about Cire’s Volunteer Program.