Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Giving their time for community

If you asked the volunteers at the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Shepparton op shop what brings them back every week, you would get a fairly similar response.

JARROD WHITTAKER May 29, 2014 4:42am

Goodwill: St Vincent de Paul Shepparton op shop volunteers (back) Reece Nobels, David Gurney, Robert Smart, Alan Farrant, (front) Lorraine Blythe, Judith Roberts, Dorothy Blackmore, Bev Condon, Florence Burling and Jodie Thorn.

For many it is a sense of camaraderie and a desire to help others.

Its operation would rival some of Shepparton’s largest retailers.

The store has 120 volunteers on its books, of which about 70 are regulars.

They provide a wide range of services, from sorting through donations, retail services and clerical support.

Volunteer Loretta Grace began working at the store six years ago after she retired.

‘‘I used to work on the counter, then on the back parts in the sorting area and then progressed into the office,’’ Ms Grace said.

‘‘I love it, because I’m involved in the office.

‘‘Even though I’m in the office, we do get people coming to the counter looking for assistance.

‘‘So I get that as well, I’m able to refer them to the assistance centre.’’

She remembered one experience of providing support quite clearly.

‘‘I picked up another volunteer and we came in in my car,’’ Ms Grace said.

‘‘We pulled in the gate and there was a big black bag on the ground.’’

Thinking someone had dumped the bag, she asked the other volunteer to put it in the bin.

‘‘So he got out of the car and went over and he came back and said ‘The bag’s moving’,’’ Ms Grace said.

‘‘I went over and the bag was moving.

‘‘I looked over and there’s an elbow stuck out and there was a man asleep in the bag.’’

The man had used the bag for shelter while he waited for the store to open to seek help.

‘‘We brought him in and gave him a shower ... some food and when welfare section opened we put him through to them,’’ she said.

For some volunteers, working at the store provides an opportunity to catch up with friends for a laugh while doing some work.

For the past six years Lorraine Blythe, Judith Roberts, Dorothy Blackmore, Bev Condon, Florence Burling and Jodie Thorn have volunteered together several days a week.

Ms Blackmore said volunteering at the store provided companionship, while working for a good cause.

Ms Roberts, who looks after the bric-a-brac section, said there was always plenty to do.

‘‘You often work hard for two whole days and at the end it looks worse than when you started,’’ she joked.

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