MEDIA RELEASE 14 May 2010
VETERAN VINNIES VOLUNTEER CONTINUES VITAL WORK AT CURTIN UNI Kevin Sealey isn’t your average volunteer.
Not only is he studying towards a PhD at Curtin, is the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Regional President for the Queen’s Park area, and has been a devoted Society volunteer for 25 years this year; he is also now the Acting President of the newly formed ‘Conference’ at Curtin University which offers students in crisis emergency welfare assistance.
The Conference, a partnership between the Curtin Student Guild and the St Vincent de Paul Society, is the first of its kind and will offer those in need in the Curtin community food and clothing vouchers, furniture, advocacy and assistance with utility accounts. Curtin University has 28,000 students on campus.
Kevin says the Curtin Student Guild was actively seeking more involvement in the dispensing of emergency relief to students who were having financial difficulty. The idea arose after a student approached a Curtin staff member, who is also a Society Member, for help with accommodation.
The student had moved over to Perth from Tasmania and was finding it difficult to secure accommodation for herself and her young child. Vinnies was able to step in and help take some pressure off by providing food and assistance with her phone bill.
Jessica Short, Student Guild President, says the Conference gives struggling students valuable assistance that they would not receive otherwise. “The Guild is very pleased with its new partnership with the St Vincent de Paul Society. We recognise that many students are constantly facing financial hardship and we feel this initiative will help these students get back on their feet,” she said.
The Conference runs out of the Guild Office and consists of 14 Members who have all received new Member training and Emergency Relief training to equip them in adequately providing help to those who come forward.
Kevin says he began his volunteering to contribute more to his Parish. “The opportunity to be involved in this type of work seemed to be a good avenue for making a positive contribution,” Kevin says.
“The Society has made me aware of various areas of disadvantage in our community. I find that trying to help those in need is the most effective way of deepening my understanding of life (faith). Through interaction with those I meet when trying to help and with other Society Members I always receive more than I give. It is a very satisfying activity,” he says.
May 10-16 is National Volunteer Week and provides an opportunity to highlight the role of volunteers in our communities and to say thank you to the more than 5 million Australians who volunteer.
Lucinda Ardagh, St Vincent de Paul Society WA Spokesperson says volunteers are such an integral part of the delivery of welfare assistance to the community and it simply would not be possible without their generosity.
“The Society in WA has over 3,000 volunteers who assist in a variety of ways with the ultimate aim of improving the lives of people living in crisis. Every year our Members conduct over 20,000 home visits in WA offering a hand of friendship to a brighter day ahead,” Lucinda says.
“The Society sincerely thanks our volunteers for their dedication, hard work and commitment to the Society’s Mission which is to serve the poor with love, respect, justice and hope,” she says.
Kevin says it’s quite fitting the Curtin Student Guild is working as a Conference as the Society originated from a University in France in 1833 as a practical response to poverty and hardship in the community.
“The Society originated at a University by a group who were determined to help those in need. Although the Society has grown, it is structured to mirror the original group and is a fine organisation through which a desire to help the needy may be channelled and brought to fruition,” Kevin says.
Enrich your life and become a volunteer today. Phone (08) 9475 5400 for more information or visit www.vinnies.org.au
Media Contacts: Communications Coordinator: Deana Pullella (08) 9475 5426 or 0404 086 054