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Volunteer profile

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Joanna Ellis

Joanna Ellis has a strong understanding of how people can come to experience hardship.

Before moving to Melbourne this year she worked for years as a teacher and social worker in South Australia. She has seen disadvantage in its many forms, and so understands the positive impact that good support can have on a person in hardship.

This understanding is one reason Joanna volunteered for our Yarra Community Friends program. Another is that having just arrived in a new community, she was keen to make an impact there.

"I love being able to contribute to my community," she says. "While this area does have a lot of people who are quite well-off, there are also a lot of people who are experiencing social and economic disadvantage."

Building a friendship

Our Yarra Community Friends program matches compassionate adults with disadvantaged children and young people. The pairs meet up for an hour or two once a week, and do whatever they feel like. The idea is that by spending time with the adult mentor, the child or young person learns from their mentor, and their families get some respite at the same time.

Joanna and the girl she is mentoring have visited the museum, had picnics in the park and gone for walks together. As the weather gets warmer they plan to go on some drives in the country - a real treat for the girl as her parents don't own a car.

"It's just about spending time together, and talking about whatever she wants to talk about," says Joanna. "I'm not there to judge, I'm not there to manage her behaviour, I'm just there as a friend."
Joanna's compassion as a volunteer is having a positive impact in two ways: on a vulnerable child in need, and on their wider community too.

We are grateful to all our wonderful volunteers across all our programs.