Meet our Volunteers | FareShare Food Charity

Meet our Volunteers

PHIL REAPS THE REWARDS OF HARD WORK

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Phil Dobson began volunteering at our kitchen garden on the Baguley Farm in December 2016. Over the past 12 months Phil has notched up over 290 hours as a volunteer supervisor making him our outstanding volunteer at the Baguley Farm.

Phil is a keen gardener but with his own Bayside garden badly affected by drought, he decided to volunteer his green thumbs and gardening skills to FareShare.

Phil (right) with fellow volunteers Isabel and Lorraine about to add “fly poo” fertiliser to our next sweet potato crop.

Like many people retired from the paid work force, Phil, a plant manager for an industrial laundry for 40 years, was not ready to hang up his boots.

Gardening for FareShare gives Phil a positive reason to get up in the mornings. Harvest time provides positive reinforcement to him and his crew of their collective efforts. The recent sweet potato harvest was a case in point – with another bumper haul grown and transported to the FareShare kitchen to be incorporated in our meals.

Phil loves his veggies, loves gardening and working as a team in the company of his fellow volunteers. His labour at FareShare is the highlight of his week!

Thanks Phil. Growing veggies on the Baguley Farm is hard physical work and we’re really grateful for your generous contribution.

STAYING THE DISTANCE – FOR 15 YEARS!

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Every year during National Volunteer Week we recognise the volunteers who have gone above and beyond.

Meet Vicki, Catherine and Ronna who have just notched up 15 years of loyal service with FareShare.

Vicki, Catherine and Ronna with their long-service awards

The trio first started lending a hand when we were One Umbrella and have witnessed tremendous change as we evolved from a small, nomadic charity making a few hundred pastry meals a week into the FareShare of today.

Vicki, a patch worker who also works part-time in Myer, Catherine a retired primary school teacher, and Ronna, who works in palliative care, have stayed with us through thick and thin as we acquired our own production kitchen and scaled up to cook 5000 meals a week.

Despite the dramatic changes, these three wonderful volunteers have maintained a regular commitment in the kitchen.

While Ronna and Catherine know each other well from sharing a shift for many years, neither had met Vicki until their long service awards were presented on May 24.

We salute all our volunteers – especially those who have supported us for more than a decade.

IF YOU CAN’T TAKE THE HEAT – FIND A FIRE EXPERT!

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The FareShare kitchen feels like a natural fit for fire ecologist Helen.

She has been volunteering with us for more than three years after moving to Melbourne in 2012 to undertake a PhD investigating the ecological impact of the state’s terrible bushfires of 1939, 1983 and 2009.

Helen (centre) with Jeremy and Despina

Dr Helen has recently started working at AECOM, a global firm where she is a senior ecologist – and no doubt resident ‘fire expert’. Her current project is looking at the impact of solar farms.

Helen loves FareShare and especially her Tuesday evening crew. She enjoys being part of a cohesive team making a valuable contribution to society and she gets to meet people from all walks of life who she would not normally encounter. Her fellow volunteers include a civil celebrant, a winemaker, a banker and a Body Shop employee.

Helen’s favourite task is making quiches and she doesn’t mind boning meat either. In terms of her own skill development, she points to an improvement in her capsicum dicing over the past 3 years!

She reflects that FareShare is much busier than it used to be and notices that there have been process improvements along the way. Helen is keen to extend her volunteering activities and is considering helping out at a soup van.

She loves the public transport and the cultural depth of her adopted city, although she’s not so fond of the changeable Melbourne weather.

We value Helen’s contribution and thank her for her willingness to give time to FareShare to reduce food waste and cook nutritious meals for thousands of Victorians in need.

VOLUNTEERING IS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR FOR MARG

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After a career spent working indoors as a librarian and editor, Marg Wanklyn decided it was time to head outdoors.

She now volunteers at our Abbotsford kitchen garden where she co-supervises the Wednesday morning shift. While Marg grows vegetables alongside Victoria Park station, husband and fellow FareShare volunteer Russell prepares them in our kitchen.

Marg on harvesting duty at our Abbotsford kitchen garden

When Marg was photographed this week, it was a perfect autumn day. “Where else would you rather be?” she asks. “On a sunny day outside, with a good group of people – doing something really worthwhile.”

But the weather isn’t always kind to our volunteers. Marg notes that our gardeners are hardy folk who are happy to put their backs into the work whatever the weather. Today’s tasks include harvesting capsicum and eggplants, and planting carrot, celery and leek seedlings.

Marg appreciates the team spirit shown by her colleagues and their compatible, cohesive, and self-directed approach. With a few volunteers also working in the kitchen, the crew fully understands the value of homegrown veg to our meals.

A home gardener and potterer, Marg has increased her knowledge immensely. At FareShare she has learned about composting, soil microbes, propagation techniques and crop rotation. All this has been applied to her own garden with excellent results.

Thanks to Marg, and all 180 of our garden volunteers, who helped us grow 38 tonnes of fresh vegetables last year at Abbotsford, Moorabbin Airport and on the Baguley family farm.

A TASTE FOR THE GOOD LIFE AND A LOATHING OF WASTE

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Meet Kate Barnett, from our Thursday afternoon kitchen crew, a winemaker and woman of refined tastes.

Having managed an extensive zero waste project in a large winery, Kate was initially attracted to FareShare by our mission to cut food waste.

As she Googled FareShare, her interest deepened. “The provision of good food to those in real need was at the heart of FareShare’s appeal. Thirdly, my love of food and cooking was the final defeat!” explains Kate.

Kate in her element with a glass of Heathcote Shiraz

“I return each fortnight because, as a group – the volunteers, chefs and staff – are not necessarily like-minded per se, but we share a social conscience.

“Importantly too, it’s an exceedingly streamlined operation, without any superfluous protocol.  That is to say – volunteering is time well spent!

Her favourite aspect? “I like the eggs.  They’re just so uncompromised.  When they’re not cracked or broken.”

In her professional life Kate has worked in cool and warm climate regions and in both small and large wineries. “I’ve made everything from Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir to Riverina Semillon.  Despite my love of the grape, I took some time out of the winemaking game a couple of years back – essentially a change of pace, largely for my mental health.  And I’m much better for it (albeit poorer). Currently, my time is taken up with a new wine venture GAME of WINES, a customer-hosted wine tasting & education event.

“It’s just me and my very naughty goat at home in Heathcote, so I do relish my regular time in Melbourne with family, friends and the FareShare crew.  If my goat eats another of my indoor plants, she might end up in a FareShare curry!

“I probably re-schedule more shifts than most but the flexibility afforded to volunteers does not go unnoticed.  As does the dedication and talent of the chefs who remarkably remember most of our names most of the time and are willing to share their culinary expertise and valuable time with us.

“I am all for extravagance, even excess, but the futility of WASTE does weigh heavy.”

Thanks Kate for sharing your story and for your ongoing contribution to FareShare.

 

FROM GYNAECOLOGY TO GASTRONOMY

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Meet David, a retired doctor, who picked up the FareShare kitchen utensils after putting down his medical kit.

David enjoyed a successful practice and career as an obstetrician and gynaecologist until he retired in 2006. He says he felt privileged and trusted in his specialist role but in the end the hours and stress took their toll and he opted for early retirement.

David with fellow volunteers Lilian and Eng

Born and bred in London, he commenced his medical studies there.  An early experience on an obstetrics ward where he was thrown into the heady mix of excited, expectant mothers and newborn babies, proved a thrilling experience and he decided it would be his life’s work.

David married an Aussie lass and they moved to Melbourne in 1972 to complete his specialist training. He began practising in city hospitals around Melbourne including The Mercy and St Vincent’s Private. David worked for 20 years as an obstetrician and then specialised for 10 in gynaecology.

He heard about FareShare through his neighbour Jan, a Tuesday afternoon kitchen volunteer.  Not surprisingly he loves the company of women – in fact he prefers it to the company of men! It follows that David feels right at home in the female-dominated Wednesday afternoon kitchen crew where he has been ensconced since he joined FareShare nearly two years ago.

When David first retired he took up golf, playing 2-3 times a week, getting his handicap down to a low of 4 but “it drove him nuts” and he gave it up. His newest hobby is photography which he combines with his other interests – family, including 3 grandchildren, dog walking and some travel.

Most of his ex-medical colleagues are still on the wards. Judging from his smile, David is a very happy man to be out of the paid workforce and continuing to contribute to the community.

GAINING PURPOSE IN RETIREMENT THROUGH VOLUNTEERING

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Simon Jenkinson – Volunteer of the Week, April 2017

 

When Simon joined our Friday morning kitchen crew in 2015 he was recently retired and was looking to do something worthwhile for the community.

For more than 30 years, Simon worked as a clinical psychologist running his own private practice specialising in drug and alcohol counselling. He finished his career working with students at the RMIT Counselling Service. Throughout his working life he had undertaken skilled volunteering but rolling up his sleeves in the FareShare kitchen was the first time he had turned his hand to unpaid manual work.

Simon with fellow volunteer and movie buff Jill

Volunteering is an important component of Simon’s “transition to retirement” plan. As well as volunteering at FareShare, he also teaches English to asylum seekers one day a week through the Brotherhood of St Laurence.  He knows that transition to retirement can be challenging – especially for men whose identity is often tied up very closely with their work. Two years down the track, Simon believes he has adjusted to being “retired”.

Simon especially enjoys the social dimension of his Friday morning shift in the FareShare kitchen which he shares with other book and film buffs. Simon is a mad Lord of the Rings fan – he loved the book and the movies. In fact he loves all SciFi movies and regards 2001 A space Odyssey as a timeless classic.

Reflecting on volunteering at FareShare, Simon feels a real sense of loyalty to his fellow crew. He is cognisant that every task he completes benefits those in need. He has done a lot of volunteering over his lifetime and believes FareShare is outstanding in organising and managing our volunteers. He likes the simple system we have for notifying an absence and appreciates that every contact he has with us is acknowledged.

Thanks Simon – we appreciate your loyalty to the Friday crew and to FareShare.

A DEMANDING JOB AND VOLUNTEERING GO HAND IN HAND FOR HUONG

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Huong Le – Volunteer of the Week, April 2017

 

They say that if you want something done, ask a busy person. It’s a maxim that fits FareShare volunteer Huong Le to a tee.

Huong spends her working life in the skies, serving as a customer services manager on long-haul Qantas flights on 747 and A330 aircraft. On any given week she could be in South Africa, South America, the US or Asia.

Huong (left) with fellow volunteer & ex-Qantas colleague Elizabeth

Naturally she loves travelling and says she cannot sit still. And if her demanding job is not enough, she is also studying part-time for a Juris Doctor in Law and her Masters in Aviation Management.

Huong was born in Saigon and fled by boat to Australia in 1975 with her family. They were rescued by a US ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after seven days at sea.

Huong and her family spent four months in a refugee camp in Guam before they settled in Melbourne when Huong was just 10 and English a foreign language.

“We didn’t have a lot when we were seeking refuge,” said Huong who remembers feeling hungry and grateful to the US Navy personnel who gave them dried biscuits, congee, two- minute noodles and a little bit of water.

The experience seems to have sparked a real passion in Huong to ‘give back’ especially around food. Her favourite kitchen task is cutting meat.

Huong loves volunteering on Wednesday nights and enjoys her interaction with fellow volunteers who are all “lovely and interesting”. She was also delighted to bump into  former colleague and fellow volunteer Elizabeth Sinclair (see photo) while on a make-up shift one Monday. Their encounter marked the 50th anniversary of Elizabeth’s first day at Qantas where according to Huong she is regarded as a bit of a legend.

FareShare is deeply grateful to Huong for making FareShare volunteering part of her life journey.

FARESHARE GIVES HOPE TO SINGLE MUM ON COMMUNITY SERVICE

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When single mum Tania was given a community-based order, she didn’t imagine any good would come of it. But after undertaking her service in the FareShare kitchen things changed.

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Tania in the FareShare kitchen: “I can’t wait to work with you again.”

Now Tania has signed up as a regular volunteer with her sights set on reviving her career in hospitality after 15 years of unemployment.

“It’s inspired me to get back into hospitality full-time,” said Tania who began working shifts in the FareShare kitchen last April as part of an innovative collaboration between FareShare and the Department of Justice and Regulation.

“I was a bit scared at first but now I’m bouncing before I even get through the FareShare doors,” said Tania. “The chefs are amazing.”

Tania, who has experience waitressing and once worked at McDonald’s organising kids’ parties, hopes she can assist others on community-based orders at FareShare now that she has completed her 130 hours of service.

She fully understands how some families struggle to make ends meet. “I’ve fallen on hard times recently and had to use food banks so I know what it’s like.

“I’ve packaged food at FareShare that I’ve actually eaten myself when I needed it at desperate times. I had no idea where it came from before.”

Now Tania, is keen to give back and restart her career.

“I’ve loved the hospitality industry since I was a child. You have put the fire back in my belly to work with food again.”

The feeling is mutual. FareShare kitchen manager Chris Mitchison said Tania was a fantastic asset to the kitchen. “Tania has been a pleasure to work with from day one. She’s hard working and keen to learn. The perfect volunteer!”

Tania was one of dozens of people serving court or parole orders who has increased the number of meals available for the hungry by working in the FareShare Kitchen on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons.  The program is being extended this year.

VOLUNTEERS ARE THE HEART OF FARESHARE

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Fareshare Banner 1On the eve of National Volunteer Week, FareShare has paid tribute to the thousands of people who volunteer each year with a video.

FareShare rescues surplus food and cooks 5000 free, nutritious meals a day for charities with the support of 750 regular volunteers. Another 3000 secondary students and 3000 corporate volunteers help out in our kitchen each year.

“Volunteers are the heart of FareShare,” said CEO Marcus Godinho. “With our ratio of 50 regular volunteers to every staff member, we couldn’t exist without them. From the time we set out baking a few hundred pies a week, to cooking more than one million meals a year today, we have been entirely dependent upon volunteers.

“Volunteers drive the vans that rescue and deliver food, prepare meals under the guidance of experienced chefs, grow vegetables in our kitchen gardens and assist with a range of professional and administrative tasks.”

They include people at all stages of life – from students to retirees – with the majority finding time around their employment arrangements. Nearly two thirds also volunteer with other organisations.

Why do they do it? According to our April 2016 volunteer survey, the biggest motivation is the desire to give back to the community. Asked for their primary motivation, 42 per cent said they “felt very fortunate and want to help others who are less so,” 30 per cent were “motivated to help feed people who go without” and 18 per cent were “passionate about food rescue.”

Overall more than 99 per cent said they would recommend volunteering at FareShare where there are currently 350 people on the waiting list for kitchen shifts.

“Volunteering at FareShare is fun, rewarding and sociable,” said volunteer manager Rosie Kelly. “Most volunteer roles require no special skills and empower people to make a tangible contribution to tackling food waste and hunger in our community.”