Celebrating National Volunteer Week

Volunteering can be defined as ‘time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.’ But volunteering is so much more than that as we know.

Volunteering can give someone a sense of achievement and purpose, help them feel part of a community and better about themselves. It can help them share skills, learn new skills and create a better work-life balance. It can help reduce stress and social isolation and help them meet new people and feel more connected.

And for Cire, volunteers add a wealth of diverse experience to the Cire team, support the critical work being done to deliver programs to the community, and help build that all-important community connection.

Cire welcomes and encourages volunteers from across the Yarra Ranges community and beyond who choose to contribute their valuable skills and time to enrich their local community.

National Volunteer Week – held Monday 18 May – Sunday 24 May 2020 – is the annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of volunteers across the country.

In any other year, events would be held across the country during National Volunteer Week to say thank you to the millions of Australians who volunteer their time and energy.

Despite 2020 being anything but an ordinary year so far, we feel that it is more important than ever to recognise and acknowledge (albeit from afar), the generous and continued support of Cire’s volunteers and the commitment they show to the organisation, the team and their local community.

Volunteers contribute to Cire in a number of different and important ways, including:

  • facilitating and co-facilitating educational programs alongside Cire staff
  • providing reception and event coordination support at the community hubs in Yarra Junction and Chirnside Park
  • providing child care support at family and children’s services sites across the Yarra Ranges
  • participating in gardening and conservation works, and working bees
  • engaging in corporate volunteering

Daniel was our first volunteer at Chirnside Park Community Hub and he is an asset to our team. Daniel loves to set up and assist for our Bookaburra storytime and our Senior Citizens club that meet weekly at the centre. I asked Daniel what volunteering at Cire means to him and his response was:

“Volunteering at Cire means meeting new people and doing exciting jobs” – Daniel Bookaburra volunteer.

Each week at Bookaburra children aged 1-5 years enjoy listening quietly to stories, being stimulated by singing songs and being creative with an easy craft project.

“As a volunteer with this program, it is always pleasing to see the delight on the children’s faces as they interact with their parents and carers during these Bookaburra activities” – Lorraine Bookaburra volunteer.

The theme of this year’s National Volunteer Week is Changing Communities, Changing Lives.

At its core, Cire is driven by a vision to enhance the lives, capabilities and opportunities in our community, and volunteers play a key role in achieving this vision.

For being the welcoming face at a community hub and voice the phone directing community members to a course or opportunity. For setting up a meeting room for the weekly Spanish language class and leading a workshop for young people. For all of this and more, we thank you.

Click here find out more about volunteering opportunities at Cire.

Celebrating National Volunteer Week

Clothing Exchange a great boost for unemployed women

Support for long-term unemployed women throughout the Yarra Ranges and beyond has received a massive boost following the official opening of First Impressions Clothing Exchange at Mooroolbark in September.

A Cire-driven project, First Impressions offers quality and affordable women’s clothing and accessories suitable for job interviews and other important occasions. Equally important are the skills sought by employers and overall support gained by the volunteers who operate the project.

Clothing Exchange a great boost for unemployed womenThe exchange was the ‘brainchild’ of participants in the Women’s Warehouse Essentials pre-accredited program at Cire Training which aims to upskill and foster confidence in long-term unemployed women.

Currently located at Mooroolbark Terrace Shopping Centre, it is operated as a small business/social enterprise by women, and for women. Items can be purchased or simply hired to get the look, to get the job!

First Impressions is a dedicated real-life training space, mentoring women to standClothing Exchange a great boost for unemployed women tall by preparing them for employment. Experienced trainers provide ongoing support to instil confidence and develop the skills necessary in the paid workforce, and transferable between jobs, as well as overall support. Some of the tangible benefits include project management/store management/retail skills/merchandising, sewing, design, and customer service/communication.

Since its ‘soft’ opening in August, two women have found employment largely based on their involvement in helping set up First Impressions.

Adding to these inspiring success stories, Cire has secured a work-for-the-dole partnership with local job provider, Employment Plus, to help create opportunities for participants to gain lifelong employability skills, assisting the transition toward sustainable employment. Through the partnership, participants gain recognised hands-on work experience within a real work-like environment.

Employment Plus, estimates there are about 1205 unemployed women on their books throughout the Yarra Ranges. Employment Plus is just one of the job providers in the region so the actual number of unemployed women is much higher.

Another strong supporter is Voices of Women (VoW), a not-for-profit organisation based in the Yarra Valley that provides advocacy for women in the region ensuring their voices are heard in matters which concern them. VoW’s vision is for a society where women are safe, respected, valued, informed, empowered and free to make genuine choices in their lives. First Impressions directly aligns with VoW’s philosophy by supporting women re-entering or entering the workforce for the first time, and assisting them to boost their confidence and self-esteem and increase motivation and energy.

First Impressions has a sustainability and environmentally friendly footprint, with items being donated, recycled and reused, supporting sustainable and regenerative practices such as the circular economy and fair trade.

Thanks to the flexibility of a Mooroolbark Artist in Residence Project, First Impressions has been sharing a shop space at Mooroolbark. Cire is actively seeking financial support to open its own space in either Mooroolbark or Lilydale with the view of opening a second premises in Yarra Junction.

First Impressions recently received a small grant from Yarra Ranges Council to assist with shop fit-out and is featured on the Australian Women Donors Network’s project showcase.