Maria started volunteering with Uniting seven years ago as a way of giving back to her community.
“I have three children and I started volunteering when my youngest child started kindergarten. I work four days a week, but I got sick of being at home cleaning the house on my day off. I wanted to do something more meaningful,” Maria said.
Maria generously donates her time each Tuesday volunteering in emergency relief in Melbourne’s west.
“We provide food relief for people in crisis. Many people who come to us have nothing. So if we can provide them with food, it’s one less thing for them to worry about. No-one should go without food,” she said.
“Volunteering in emergency relief at Uniting has opened my eyes to the issues many people in our community face each and every day.”
“People who come to us for help are often tired and emotionally drained. They’ve had to deal with some really tough things in their lives.”
“I just hope that in some small way, I can help them unload some of their concerns and help them to see there are people in the community who are always here to help them,” Maria added.
Maria is often overwhelmed when she sees the sense of relief on someone’s face when they leave with food and can go home and feed their family.
“My fondest memory is of a refugee family who reached out for help, because the parents were unable to find work,” Maria recalls.
“I remember talking to the youngest child, a little boy around the same age as my middle child. He told me that he loved playing soccer, but he didn’t have a soccer ball or boots.”
“It broke my heart that this little boy didn’t even have a soccer ball to play with.”
“When I got home that night and told my son about the little boy I had met that day, he raced into his room and started packing his spare soccer boots and jerseys.”
“I arranged to meet the little boy and his father to give them my son’s soccer gear. They were so grateful.”
“That’s something I will never forget, and I hope my son never forgets,” she said.
Maria said through her volunteering role, she hopes to teach her children about the importance of helping others.