A Message from CEO Sherene Devanesen
24 May 2018

Posted on 24 May 2018 by

Left photo: Clair with volunteers from the Yooralla Chelsea Opportunity Shop. Right photo: Volunteers Margaret and Roz at the Yooralla Opportunity Shop in Benalla.

Sherene DevansenAs Australia celebrates National Volunteer Week this week, on behalf of Yooralla, I would like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude and say a big thank you to each and every one of our invaluable volunteers. 

The story of Yooralla began in 1918, when a group of volunteers joined forces, under the leadership of Sister Faith, to establish Victoria’s first kindergarten for children with disability. 

Volunteers continued to be an integral force behind Yooralla, as the organisation evolved to become one of the largest disability service providers in Victoria, supporting more than 4,000 people with disability. 

Yooralla would not be the organisation it is today without the support of our volunteers, who passionately share our vision of a world where people with disability are equal citizens. 

One of these volunteers is Clair Duffus (pictured far left), who received Yooralla’s Values Individual Volunteer Award in 2017, for her role in setting up Yooralla’s Opportunity Shop in Chelsea, which was opened last August. 

Setting up and managing opportunity shops to raise money for not-for-profits has been a significant part of Ms Duffus’s long-running volunteer career. She managed the opening of her first opportunity shop in 1994, which was so successful that within just one month it made enough profit to cover two years’ rent. Ms Duffus gladly offered to help when she heard that Yooralla was looking for a volunteer to assist with the opening of its new opportunity shop in Chelsea in 2017.  

Supported by a group of dedicated volunteers, the shop also offers a retail work experience program for Yooralla customers. Sandy (pictured middle front row in the left photo) is one of these volunteers. After retiring from a 40-year career in nursing, she wanted to use her time to give back to the local community. Sandy says participants can also gain a lot from volunteering – she says it is a great way to connect with the community, learn new skills and meet new people. 

Margaret (pictured left in the right photo) is another valued Yooralla volunteer, who has been a devoted team member at the Yooralla Opportunity Shop in Benalla for almost two decades. Having cared for children with physical and intellectual disability in the past, Yooralla was a natural choice for Margaret, when she moved to Benalla 20 years ago and wanted to find a way to connect with the local community and find a way to give back. Margaret says she also enjoys the social aspect volunteering offers. In her spare time, Margaret, who has four children, 14 grandchildren and eight grand grandchildren, enjoys dressmaking, patch work and knitting. 

Please read about our other wonderful volunteers.

Dr Sherene Devanesen
Chief Executive Officer

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