Students from Gilroy Catholic College, Castle Hill, assisting with Vinnies Van.
This year during National Youth Week (16-24 April), the National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia celebrates the growing number of younger people who enthusiastically give their time and expertise to help others.
National Vice President Youth Jacob Miller said young people are able to lead new ways of responding to the needs of their local communities, particularly in the face of crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic and bushfires, flood and other natural disasters.
“A young Frederic Ozanam founded the Society on his 20th birthday and that spirit of youth is thriving in the Society today,” Mr Miller said.
“This year, in particular, we recognise the role of young volunteers, that often unsung cohort of 28,500 people under the age of 40, who make up more than a third of our volunteer base.
“The past 12 months have showcased the adaptability, innovation and forward-thinking spirit of our young people and their connection to the founder’s mission to make positive change, even in the face of significant challenges.
“Young people from primary school age to their late 30s are in our shops, in our soup vans, talking to people experiencing isolation and disadvantage, and taking up senior leadership roles.
“Nationally, seven of our advisory committees are led by young people, with more than 60 individuals shaping how our organisation responds to public policy challenges of the day,” he said.
Once a month, staff and students from Gilroy Catholic College, Castle Hill, volunteer with Vinnies Van to provide food and hygiene products to those in need at Mt Druitt and Parramatta. Vinnies Van is a free mobile service for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, marginalisation and social isolation.
Year 11 student Daniella Lopresti recently assisted the Vinnies Van, and had this insightful reflection to share:
“Going into this, we didn’t know what to expect, but after meeting so many different people and hearing their stories and experiences, we learned a lot. It was great to make a positive difference in their lives and let them know that there are people who are here to help them.”
Mr Miller said, “Young people are not the future of the Society, they are the here and now – without their contribution, Vinnies Australia would be a very different organisation.”