Shining a spotlight on our volunteers

Volunteer Day Mailchimp 1

This week we're shining a spotlight on the incredible contributions of our volunteers to celebrate International Volunteer Day on 5 December.

There is no kinder act than truly being there for someone in their time of need. This is what our volunteers do, day in and day out, when they answer our support line calls, when they help us organise events, when they take the time to spread the word regarding our services and when they share their story, making it OK for others to do the same.

Quite simply, we couldn't do what we do - be there with compassion and understanding for bereaved parents in a way no one else can be - without them.

Sands volunteers are based right around Australia, come from all walks of life, and their roles are many and varied. We recently spoke to WA-based volunteer Diann and QLD-based Nell about their volunteer journeys.

 

Copy of Sands Volunteer 

When did you become a Sands volunteer and why?

I became a Sands volunteer in May 2016 after carrying out my parent supporter and group facilitator training. In 2010 we lost our daughter Maia Jane when she was 1 day old. Sands was such a great support for us at that time and still continue to be. I wanted to use my experience to be able to support others in that position as I could not imagine being on this journey without the invaluable support I received.

What does your volunteer role involve?

At the moment I am Social Media Editor for Sands in Western Australia and I also volunteer on the national email support service. I also previously volunteered on the phone and live chat support services, but since starting full time employment I have stepped back from those. I also assist at any events that we run in the Perth metropolitan area, the latest one being our Walk to Remember in October.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Sands community?

It means the world to me to be part of the Sands community and I have made some wonderful friends through Sands, both in Scotland (where I'm from) and Australia. I know that any time I need to talk to someone I can call on any of the other volunteers for support. Likewise, if I need help in providing the right support to a bereaved parent who contacts Sands I know that I can draw upon the experience of the whole Sands community to find it.

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role?

That I know I am helping families at one of the most difficult times of their lives; I am helping them on their journey through grief and showing them that they can get through the dark days; I am validating their anger and giving them the opportunity to share their story where I can empathise with them and be there for them.

Would you like to add anything more about your experience as a bereaved parent or volunteer?

As a bereaved parent, taking the first step to contact Sands was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The first group meeting I attended was full of shared tears but it opened the door to so many new things for me. I am so glad that I made that first move! As a volunteer, I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. I feel comfortable talking about Maia Jane to new people as I feel I am honouring her memory.

 

Diann

When did you become a Sands volunteer and why?

In May 2014 I was pregnant with my third son when he was born unexpectedly at only 16 weeks gestation. We named him Jasper. Sands provided me with invaluable support during that very difficult time, through support meetings, online support groups, information resources, and most importantly acknowledging and validating my baby and the grief I felt at his death. In the months following I began to volunteer with Sands as a way of giving back, and also a way to stay connected to Jasper – I could not mother him, but volunteering with Sands felt like a meaningful way to direct that energy.

What does your volunteer role involve?

My volunteer role with Sands has been quite varied – I am a full-time mum (to four beautiful boys at home) and an occasional graphic designer, so have been involved with creating graphics (for Sands events, cards, certificates, personalised images, etc.)vI was also a member of the Sands Qld management committee for two years leading up to the recent unification of all Sands groups, which was an incredible learning experience and gave me valuable insight into how much is involved in running an organisation like Sands. I have enjoyed helping out with various Sands events, from assembling newsletters, baking cupcakes for the Walk to Remember stall, sorting and selling donations for the fundraising Sands Qld garage sale, dressing up for the Sands Qld long lunch fashion parade, and sharing my story as part of one of the Bereavement Care educational workshops run by Sands Qld. One of the wonderful aspects of this community-based organisation is that there are so many opportunities to become involved, and everyone’s contribution is appreciated.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Sands community?

The Sands community is built on compassion, empathy, respect, support and connection. It creates space for people to grieve, remember, and share – without judgement or pressure.
As part of the Sands community I have come to know some incredible and inspiring people.

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role?

Volunteering gives me a sense of meaningful purpose, and hopefully helps to bring some comfort to bereaved parents.

Would you like to add anything more about your experience as a bereaved parent or volunteer?

One of the most important things Sands did for me was to recognise that my baby Jasper’s life, brief as it was, matters. He was here and he changed me, and will always be part of who I am. I live this change through volunteering with Sands.