When Nicole started volunteering to overcome the isolation caused by COVID-19 lockdowns, she had no idea the opportunities it would open.
“I was working part-time from home because of COVID-19 restrictions” says Nicole.
“When things started to open again, I wanted to get out and be around people.
“I was browsing around my local op shop and started chatting to the volunteers and found out they were looking for more volunteers.”
Nicole started volunteering a day a week at her local Uniting op shop in Werribee.
“It was wonderful getting to know the other volunteers and regular customers,” she says.
“I was struggling during lockdowns and I didn’t feel like myself.
“The volunteering role definitely helped improve my mental health.”
Nicole says she enjoyed the treasure hunt aspect of op shops and helping people bag a bargain.
“There were some beautiful designer and vintage dresses donated,” she says.
“Someone donated a whole collection of Dr Who items and people went crazy for them.
“It was really interesting seeing the weird and wonderful things people donated.”
Nicole says she enjoyed balancing her work and volunteering role.
Her young son also spent time helping at the op shop.
When Nicole’s part-time contract job finished, she mentioned it to the op shop co-ordinator.
And from there, Nicole made the move from Uniting volunteer to employee.
“A project co-ordinator contract role had become available at Uniting, so I applied and was successful,” says Nicole.
“I really enjoyed the job and I was keen to stay at Uniting after my contract finished in December.
“A marketing position had just become available and my background is in marketing, so I jumped at the opportunity to apply.”
As fate would have it, the vacant position involved marketing Uniting’s op shops.
“It felt like it was meant be,” says Nicole.
“I still get to see the wonderful people I volunteered with, help promote the shops and hopefully make more money to support the work of Uniting.
“It feels like I’ve come full circle.”