From grief to giving back: Camaro’s compassionate calling.


May 16, 2024

The pandemic brought the world to a grinding halt. And as communities grappled with the challenges of lockdowns and social isolation, Camaro found herself navigating an additional layer of hardship: the sudden loss of her mother.

In the aftermath of this profound loss, Camaro sought solace and connection through volunteering.

“I lost my Mum during Covid,” she said.

“She got sick and passed away quite unexpectedly. Volunteering brought me back into the community.”

A chance encounter with an old colleague-turned-friend at a department store led Camaro to a volunteer opportunity at Uniting.

Her friend, an employee of Uniting, encouraged her to volunteer with the Home and Community Care Program for Younger People in Sale. This program supports those living with disability, mental illness or chronic pain to live independent and fulfilling lives.

Camaro began assisting Uniting’s art and drumming classes for young people in the community.

“The art classes focused on mental health, so doing zentangles. Which is a type of art that helps those in need of support with mental health. It helps people relax,” said Camaro.

She then supported the launch of a new Uniting program named AXIOS which provides young LGBTIQA+ people with the opportunity to build community connections and social circles in the area.

“The word ‘AXIOS’ is Greek for ‘worthy of’ or ‘deserving of’, so very fitting for the name of the LGBTIQA+ group,” said Camaro.

“Volunteering with the AXIOS group, I could see a huge change in the confidence of these young people.

“They would come in very shy and quiet, and then later they would come early and be very excited. They opened up so much more, it was really lovely to see.”

Camaro spoke to the importance of queer spaces for young people living rurally.

“Unfortunately, in the country, we do sometimes have the side of the community who perhaps aren’t as accepting of queer people. Which can be very challenging for younger people,” she said.

“Some families are not accepting of their child’s gender or sexuality. So, these young people can be scared to reach out.

“There were some young people who you could barely get a word out of and then after a couple of weeks they were so lively and talkative.”

For Camaro, volunteering has always been an important practice in her family.

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.

These are words that have been echoed through Camaro’s family. From her Aunty to her Mum and then to her.

“Volunteering has always been in our family,” she said.

“When I was younger, I would do meals on wheels with my Mum. My Mum and

Aunty also ran CAVA, Community and Volunteer Action, another volunteering organisation down here.”

For Camaro, volunteering has changed the way she sees and interacts with her community.

“Some of the conversations that I have with the participants and hearing their life stories is so touching and eye opening.

“Volunteering is a great way to teach ourselves respect for others. To learn to be a part of the community, not just coasting by as another soul in society.”

Camaro’s volunteering role has now blossomed into employment.

Learn more about volunteering at Uniting.

*The photo accompanying this story is for illustrative purposes only. It is not a photo of the people featured in this story.

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