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10 Years of Volunteering: Dawne's Inspiring Story of Giving Back

Ten years ago, Dawne reached out to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity Victoria’s ReStore social enterprise, a decision she has never looked back on. A decade later, her volunteer family at ReStore is celebrating her inspiring journey of dedicated service, an exemplary model for all to consider ‘giving back’ wherever they can.

This month, the team at Habitat for Humanity ReStore is celebrating Dawne’s milestone achievement of 10 years in volunteering. As a volunteer, she spends a day each week in the store helping customers find their next pre-loved purchase. She is loved by team members and customers alike. “Dawne inspires people by what she says and does. She is an outstanding example of what community volunteering should be,” says her manager, Russell. Her story communicates a beautiful example of the benefits of volunteering.

Dawne recalls how her volunteering journey with ReStore started all those years ago. She remembers reading an article about how Habitat for Humanity Victoria helped a local widow with minor repairs to her home, which led her to do more research on the organisation. As she read about Habitat for Humanity on their website, a line that says ‘every child deserves a safe and secure home’ stuck with her. “I’ve had a safe and secure home. My kids have a safe and secure home,” Dawne reflects. “I’ve had a very good life,” she admits, “so I wanted to contribute.” Soon after, she put in her application to volunteer at the ReStore social enterprise run by Habitat for Humanity Victoria.

Ten years down the track, Dawne is still devoted to volunteering at ReStore. Her ReStore volunteer community is as close as family to her. She has met people she would never encounter anywhere in her life and formed deep friendships she had never expected. She loves the camaraderie she shares with her team. Whether it’s sorting items in the warehouse, or assisting customers in the shop front, she does her work diligently and looks out for her fellow team members. It’s a joy for Dawne. Every Monday, she travels 30 kilometres each way to volunteer a full shift at the store, and she goes home with a full heart. “Volunteering is something that has to come from the heart,” she says.

For Dawne, what kept her going all these years is a dedication to the cause behind ReStore. All proceeds from ReStore go towards funding Habitat for Humanity Victoria’s work of providing safe and affordable housing to low-income families in Victoria. Their Home Building Program creates an accessible pathway for these families to enter into a partnership journey towards owning a secure home, and with it the possibility of building stronger foundations and brighter futures. Dawne makes the effort to show up to as many ‘house handover’ events she can, where she sees first-hand the impact of her contribution. With each family that receives the keys to a safe place they can call home, she can’t help but feel proud of the fact that every little bit she does helps change a family’s future. Reflecting on her first handover event, she says, “As a volunteer I was quite excited about going off to look at the house we built. When we saw the family receive keys to their new home, we cried like a baby.” The impact of her volunteering on the lives of families is for her the greatest reward.

Dawne believes that everyone who has a bit of time to give should consider volunteering. “Volunteering opens up a whole new world. It gives you a purpose to get out and get going,” she says. There are many avenues for everyone to consider volunteering their time and energy to help others. At Habitat for Humanity ReStore, volunteers with different skills, backgrounds, and needs are able to find their unique way of contributing to the operations of the store. Dawne loves seeing people thrive when they step into a volunteering community. Ultimately, she believes that it’s about giving back. “When you volunteer, you come away learning a little bit more about society and people’s challenges that you just don’t understand or realise when everything is coming your way,” she says. “I have never once reconsidered my decision.”

Habitat for Humanity Victoria encourages everyone in the community to consider volunteering when and where they can. Each contribution, no matter how small, adds up to make significant impacts in the lives of those who need it.

Do you have a story or a word of encouragement for Dawne? Write it in the comment box below and we'll pass it on to her!

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