For Jean, volunteering at her local op shop has led to new friendships.
Jean has been volunteering at the Uniting Vic.Tas run Yarraville Op Shop for three years.
As a regular customer at the shop for many years, Jean was encouraged to volunteer in her much-loved community shop.
“I used to visit the shop a lot and one of the volunteers, Vivienne, told me that I’d make a great volunteer,” Jean said.
“I couldn’t at the time, as I was a full-time carer for my mother.”
When Jean’s mother moved into an aged care facility, Jean took Vivienne’s advice.
“I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands, so I figured I may as well give it a go,” she said.
“I really enjoy interacting with other people, and volunteering is a great way to meet and talk to new people.”
Jean had spent much of her working life as a hotel cleaner and supervisor, with no experience in retail.
But it didn’t take long for her to pick up the tricks of the trade.
“At first, I was scared of using the cash register. I didn’t think I’d be any good at it,” she said.
“But it just comes naturally to me now.”
In her first year of volunteering, Jean spent many hours each week working at the shop.
But nowadays, she is happy to volunteer at a more leisurely pace.
“I only volunteer one day a week now, but I still drop by the shop each day to say hello to everyone,” she said.
“We have wonderful volunteers and customers at the shop.”
Uniting Vic.Tas run op shops raise vital funds for programs and services that support some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in local communities.
It’s this knowledge that drives Jean to keep volunteering.
“I often remind people that they’re not only getting a bargain, but they’re also helping people in need,” she said.
“That’s the greatest thing of all, knowing that the time I give is helping to raise money for people who are doing things tough.”