Menlanie Hodge (far right) with the Volunteering Sunshine Coast team.
Menlanie Hodge (far right) with the Volunteering Sunshine Coast team.

Making a world of difference through matchmaking

COAST volunteering matchmaker Melanie Hodge is dedicated to connecting the right volunteer to the right organisation.

She has been volunteering for about 10 years since loosing her job at the Big Pineapple when it closed in 2010. Melanie wasn't able to secure another job. She then turned to volunteering.

"It's the social interaction; I really do enjoy communicating with people and I like to keep occupied," Melanie, 65, said.

"I couldn't find work on the Sunshine Coast. I did an admin course and tried to get back into the workforce, but it is very age orientated on the Sunshine Coast."

Melanie's current volunteer role is Interviewer for Volunteering Sunshine Coast. She looks at an applicant's work and life experiences, and skills, an whether they have a genuine desire to do the volunteering.

"So many of our volunteers are highly experienced but they can't get work because of their age," Melanie said. "That's what brings a lot of people into volunteering.

"It's not being able to get paid work, wanting something to do and social interaction are probably the three main goals of volunteering."

She aims to fit a volunteer into a role they want to do. But, she says, not everybody wants to use their skills.

"They might just want to volunteer in an op-shop and have that social interaction," Melanie added. "Some people don't want to do anything similar to their work life; but just want a complete change while others do want to use the skills they have."

Melanie hears a lot of different stories while conducting the volunteer interviews, some of them quite sad.

"Sometimes I will spend a whole hour just listening to somebody who is in a bad place in their life," she said.

"I had a lady who had lost her husband recently and she was really not doing well. Just listening to her and being able to be supportive, just not in finding her somewhere to volunteer, but I did, and she ended up coming back to me twice to find other places to volunteer as well.

"It's that sense of fulfilment in helping people; that's my main aim."

Volunteering Sunshine Coast is looking for more volunteers and more organisations that need volunteers. To contact its office, phone 5443 8256 Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm, or go to volunteeringsunshinecoast.org.au

National Volunteer Week is on May 20 to 26.


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