The value of volunteer mentors and role models

Paul was looking for a new volunteer opportunity to devote his time to during retirement, when he took up a volunteer role as an Independent Person. He shared his volunteer experience in the YRIPP program at CMY for National Volunteer Week.

What initially motivated you to become a volunteer for the Youth Referral Independent Person Program (YRIPP) with CMY?

During the first COVID-19 lockdown, I had a bit of time on my hands so I began considering options for my fast approaching retirement, after 42 years as a teacher.

I wanted to be involved in volunteering that was flexible, unpredictable, challenging, community-based and worthwhile. YRIPP ticked all of those boxes!

What did you not know about volunteering with YRIPP which you’d like to convey to someone thinking about joining the program?

I did not consider, until I began as an Independent Person (IP), how appreciative the majority of the young people are to having an IP in the room supporting them.

Can you share a specific moment or experience during your time volunteering that had a significant impact on you?

Recently I supported a young person who was part of a gang. He wanted to “break his cycle of offending before it was too late” (his words). He had recently recommenced his studies, disbanded his gang, was undergoing family therapy to reconnect with his father and had secured a part-time job.

The raw emotion on display as he expressed his commitment to turning his life around gave all present hope that real change is possible.

What skills or lessons have you gained from your volunteer experience that you didn’t expect?

I have developed a new found appreciation of the multitude of challenges that our young people face as they try to navigate their way towards adulthood.

Also, an appreciation of the value of adult mentors and role models and their potential positive influence on the young people they work with.

How do you spend your time when you are not volunteering?

I’m a bit of a ‘professional volunteer’ working on big events including the FIFA Women’s World Cup, previous Commonwealth Games and the Great Victorian Bike Ride. I’m a guide at the Werribee Zoo and “Poppy” to two delightful grandsons. When not volunteering, my wife Deb and I love to travel.

Find out more about volunteering as an Independent Person with YRIPP here.