Stories from our volunteers

Last year, 7,840 volunteers donated 344,000 hours of support to help disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education and create a better future for themselves. Here are some of their stories.

David

“I chose [The Smith Family] because I wanted to give something back to the community. I keep coming back because…I feel that the work I’m doing is being put to good use.”

In between completing a Bachelor of Commerce, playing competitive baseball on weekends and working part-time at a golf course, David finds time to volunteer in our South Australian team.

The Smith Family currently has a nationwide team of 863 volunteers providing invaluable administrative support for the delivery of our Learning for Life programs.

Volunteer story - David

John

Wal and Tri working on the computer

iTrack participants connecting with their mentors online

John

“I liked the idea of being part of something that would bring joy to families.”

Single parent John joined us initially as a volunteer for our Christmas activities, but has since expanded his support into other areas of The Smith Family’s work – sponsoring a child and joining iTrack, our online mentoring program for high school students.

“When it was explained to us that helping to break that cycle [of disadvantage] was as simple as sponsoring a child through the Learning for Life program which provides them with uniforms, school books and the funds necessary to cover the expenses of their excursions, and which in turn would encourage and support these children to stay in school, I just knew I had to get behind it.

I recently began volunteering in The Smith Family’s online mentoring program called iTrack. We chat for one hour per week with a student in an online chat room and talk to them about life, their schooling, career options, etc. I am really excited about this opportunity as it is a way that I can still do my part to help children in school but it is also flexible around my work schedule.

Katelyn

“What I’ve found rewarding about volunteering with The Smith Family is working with an enthusiastic group of kids who really love getting involved.”

University student, Katelyn, is one of 522 volunteer tutors who last year helped nearly 2,517 students receive one-to-one assistance in our after-school Learning Clubs.

Volunteer story - Katelyn

Nick

Mentoring has really made me think differently about what young people can achieve and especially those who come from difficult backgrounds.

Nick

AMP employee Nick is a volunteer with The Smith Family's Tertiary Mentoring Program. He has been providing mentoring support to Jacob, one of 521 tertiary Learning for Life students.

"AMP actively encourages volunteering through The Smith Family. A few years ago, I was matched with Jacob because he was studying economics, which is what I studied at Uni. One and a half years since being matched, Jacob has now finished his degree, but we're still in touch because he's started looking for work and it's proving a really interesting part of the mentoring process.

Jacob hasn't needed any help with motivation, as he's constantly looking at the options available to him and seeking out opportunities. Mostly I've just been looking over his shoulder to help him balance priorities and offer some career direction. Personally, I have felt a sense of responsibility towards Jacob, but have also found him quite inspiring because he refuses to let anything get in the way of what he wants.

The experience has been very rewarding and hasn't been too time consuming or onerous."

Pauline

"If you think your retirement is a time to slow down, think again. As a volunteer, I have never been so busy!"

Looking for something to keep herself occupied upon her retirement five years ago, Pauline became a volunteer with The Smith Family. She is one of 191 volunteer supervisors supporting young buddies on the student2student reading program.

"The confidence they get from reading spills over to other areas of their lives. Their whole demeanor changes and other subjects come to life for them. Having those basic literacy skills just improves everything for them, they gain so much confidence.

You only have to go to a graduation ceremony to see how the work The Smith Family does make a difference. To see kids who probably would have left school at year 10, finishing year 12 and going on to tertiary education, as the first in their family, that makes it all worthwhile.”

Girl on the phone reading

student2student in action

Each year, more than 1,000 corporate and community volunteers provide guidance, support and encouragement to secondary and tertiary students as part of The Smith Family's mentoring programs.