Hakea Grove’s Nurse Practitioner, Claire Abbott

Members of the Halekulani VIEW club

This National Volunteer Week, children’s education charity, The Smith Family, is celebrating the contributions of more than 8,000 volunteers who make its work possible.

In 2020, Smith Family volunteers across every Australian state and territory donated more than 210,000 hours of service, with an estimated equivalent value of $6.2M, to help provide critical education support to young Australians whose families are experiencing financial hardship.

With volunteers working directly with students as trained mentors, tutors and reading buddies, The Smith Family is able to bring its life changing learning programs to over 57,000 Learning for Life students across Australia every year.

One such volunteer is Canton Beach resident, Chris Newell, who has been volunteering for The Smith Family for the last 18 years.

She, along with the other 55 members of The Halekulani VIEW Club branch in Budgewoi, support eight children through The Smith Family.

“The way I volunteer for The Smith Family is that I am a speaker for them, I go to other organisations such as Rotary to get our message out into the community.

“Everyone has heard of The Smith Family, but no one knows exactly what they do,” Chris Newell said.

“Through VIEW, I have met a lot of wonderful women who have become lifelong friends, and every time you go to a meeting you know that you’re making a difference in your community.

“Some of the things that I’ve helped with include helping out with barbeques, and our annual fashion parade, soup day and Irish Outing day, and even our trivia night.” Newell said.

The Halekulani branch of VIEW was formed in 1978, and Newell is currently the Secretary for the club.

“We sponsor eight children through The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program, and I’ve met some of the sponsor children and they really are a credit.

“Some of our sponsor children, whom we’ve supported from kindergarten all the way through to the HSC, have gone on to do some great things, and some of them even become ambassadors for The Smith Family and speak, like I do, at events.

“It’s vital to get our message out there.” Newell said.

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a report released by the Australian National University revealed that national volunteering levels collapsed by 66 percent between February and April 2020.

“We’ve definitely felt the impact of the pandemic.

“Some volunteers, especially our older ones, chose to stay at home and limit their activities.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation and right now we need them more than ever, so it’s been great seeing so many more of our volunteers re-engage with us again,” Newell said.

Community is one of the greatest things you can do.” Newell said.

Harry Mulholland