Yooralla recognises a career in volunteering

DATE: 23 May 2018

Yooralla recognises a career in volunteering

It came as no surprise to her friends and family that even retirement couldn’t slow Ms Duffus down.

Clair Duffus, who received Yooralla’s Values Individual Volunteer Award in 2017 for her input to the setting up of Yooralla’s Opportunity Shop (op shop) in Chelsea, has never been a person to do things by halves.

For many decades she ran a successful garden supplies business and a busy bed and breakfast while raising a family.

“That’s how I’ve always been – I like being busy,” said Ms Duffus.

It came as no surprise to her friends and family that even retirement couldn’t slow Ms Duffus down.

“I can’t just sit at home contemplating my navel. A friend of mine volunteered as a Pink Lady at Rosebud Hospital – their role is to make patients’ stay comfortable – so I decided to give it a go and that’s how I got into volunteering,” she said.

Within just three months Ms Duffus, became the President of the Rosebud Pink Lady Group – a title she still holds almost 25 years later.

Setting up and managing op shops to raise money for the hospital has also been a big part of Ms Duffus’s long-running volunteer career.

“I managed the opening of my first op shop in 1994. Within just one month the shop made enough profit to cover two years’ rent. So we were able to open another one soon after,” she said.

So when Yooralla was looking for a volunteer to help with the opening of its new op shop in Chelsea in 2017, Ms Duffus gladly offered to help.
She was involved in the process of setting up the shop from the very beginning.

“I had to find the right facility, design the fitout of the shop ensuring it is accessible, establish an ongoing flow of donations, find and train volunteers and everything else in between,” she said.

The op shop, which opened in August last year, was also set up to provide people with disability  opportunities to develop retail and customer service skills.
On Thursdays it offers retail work experience for Yooralla customers – a program that is run through the Yooralla Learning Hub. Customers can choose what type of retail work experience they would like to gain: it can be sorting the stock, ironing the clothes and putting them on hangers, or working at the till.

Apart from Ms Duffus, who still volunteers at the op shop two days a week, there are now three other volunteers, as well as a supervisor, who is the only employed staff member.

“I certainly never expected to receive an award from Yooralla for it. This award recognises not just my input but that of our entire team at the shop,” said Ms Duffus.

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