Meet One Of Our Dedicated Volunteers, Silvana
Silvana Scro’s life took an unexpected turn when her boss closed the office where she worked for 12 years.
Leaving behind her job as a legal secretary, the mother of three took the opportunity to try something that’s always been on her heart: volunteering.
‘When I stopped work, I thought now I’ve got the time to do what I’ve always wanted to do,’ Silvana said. ‘After my children left the nest, I felt I still had so much more to give. I could see there was so much great work to do.’
So in March last year, Silvana approached Baptist World Aid about volunteer opportunities, and started serving two days a week. Volunteering from home and in the office, she contributes to annual progress reports for Child Sponsorship supporters, and checks letters the children write–a role she relishes as a devoted mum and grandmother.
‘I love the fact that we are helping children and their families. I enjoy reading that they are happy and being given opportunities to learn and educate themselves for a better life,’ Silvana said. ‘I’ve cried happy tears when I’ve read a letter, because of what the children have written!’
A Rich Legacy Of Volunteers
Baptist World Aid is built on a legacy of volunteers like Silvana.
In 1959, it started with a team of Australian Baptists working in a suburban garage, keen to see change for children living in poverty in the aftermath of World War Two. The organisation has since grown, but it still relies on people giving their time and talents—from retirees and university students to mums re-entering the workforce, researchers and a variety of others.
Volunteers serve in different ways, such as connecting Child Partners with supporters in Australia, doing research for the Ethical Clothing Guide, updating databases, even video editing. Linda Findlayson, HR & Volunteer Program Coordinator, said currently the team does the equivalent amount of work to five full-time employees.
‘Volunteers are a crucial part of Baptist World Aid because they let us do so much more, as we bring people together for a better world’, Linda said. ‘The value that we get from them is incredible.’
She said the organisation receives thousands of children’s letters from our Christian Partners’ Child and Youth Clubs around the world, and our volunteers help write around 8,000 annual progress reports each year. ‘We couldn’t communicate to all of our supporters without the help of volunteers like Silvana,’ she added.
In fact, last year alone 29 volunteers generously clocked 3,650 hours. Their time translated to an incredible $112,928 saved, ‘for which we are so grateful,’ said Tara Reid, Chair of the Board, ‘but their contribution is also much more than this.’
The Benefit Goes Both Ways
On top of what they give, volunteers also have a lot to gain from being part of Baptist World Aid’s work. Some have learned new skills transferable to other jobs, with volunteers gaining the necessary experience to join the staff as employees at Baptist World Aid. ‘If someone is keen on something like video editing, we can try to create roles to give people a specific experience,’ Linda said.
Others, like Silvana, have loved being part of a friendly team with a nurturing culture. ‘I get to meet other volunteers in the office and they’re the nicest people,’ she said. ‘It’s lovely to see the staff praying for other people. I feel thankful to volunteer for an organisation where I feel at home.’
But many say the main reward for volunteering is being part of something bigger and better: a vision for God’s world where equality reigns.
‘Some people gain skills and work experience, some gain friendship and camaraderie, but they all know they’re doing something positive,’ said Linda, ‘that they’re part of working towards a goal of ending poverty.’
Silvana agrees, who believes ‘you’re ever too young or old to learn new things and understand how lucky we are in Australia. Volunteering with Baptist World Aid has been a learning experience for me. It warms my soul to know we are helping people. And at the end of the day, it helps me to know my purpose in life.’
Join our history of committed volunteers who first began Baptist World Aid Australia in 1959 with a vision to end poverty, and who continue to contribute their time and talents to the mission. Interested in becoming a volunteer at Baptist World Aid? Find out more here.