Skip To Main Content

For Robyn Upton, volunteering in various roles provides a sense of belonging and has given her a whole new perspective on life. Read on to find out a little more about volunteering from someone who has been involved in a range of organisations and charities. This is a snippet of Robyn’s volunteering story…

Since retiring and my marriage ending, I joined Alfredton Rotary through an introduction from a friend. It has given me a whole new perspective on life. The members give so much to the Ballarat community and we have also had projects in Bali and Africa. At first, I thought meeting every week was onerous. But we meet every Monday night and keep to a strict timetable of a 60-minute meeting, so it goes very quickly. Most of our members are still working and manage their time very efficiently. Going to a Rotary conference opened my eyes even wider in terms of how many projects there are worldwide. The Rotary Website is extensive – it would take a very long time to explore!! There is also training through workshops (and during Covid lockdowns the training was conducted via Zoom). Rotary Alfredton also has our meeting available via Zoom.

Part of my volunteer involvement with Alfredton Rotary club includes delivering sandwiches for ‘Eat Up’. Woolworths supply the ingredients for cheese sandwiches plus snacks, and a few of us from Rotary help deliver them to primary schools in Ballarat, once a fortnight. The year 7 and 8 students at Ballarat Grammar make up the sandwiches. Ably co-ordinated by Deb Robertson, we currently deliver to 30 schools. The program is run throughout Australia and it was started by a young man in Shepparton who discovered (from a newspaper article) that 2 out of 5 children in primary school go to school without lunch. The school staff are incredibly grateful.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to be involved in Ballarat Foundation’s fundraiser, “Dancing With Our Stars”. It was fabulous fun, and I met a great range of fun-loving people. And I learned to dance! But my favourite volunteer role was with Story Dogs. I saw an article in the Ballarat Courier about a woman who wanted to start “Story Dogs” in Ballarat. At the time, I had my pet, Manilla (a re-classified Guide Dog). She hadn’t passed as a Guide Dog as she had excess cartilage on one elbow and it was predicted she wouldn’t have been able to fulfil the requirements of being a Guide Dog for the full 10 years.

Manilla came to me at 15 months of age. She had gone through puppy training and was very well-behaved. I thought she would be perfect for Story Dogs – a program where people (accompanied by their dogs) go into Primary schools. Adults need to complete a short course and all dogs have to be assessed by a test also. The program is about children who need extra help reading “read to the dog”. Manilla and I went out to Bungaree P.S. every Wednesday morning during the term, and it was an absolute joy. Sadly, Manilla died suddenly in November last year.

If someone was interested in joining Alfredton Rotary, they could expect a sense of belonging to a community, a sense of purpose and a sense of helping others. People could reach out to become a volunteer by talking to friends/acquaintances, reading the local newspaper and checking with the local council as to what voluntary roles are available.