Posted by Gabby Russo
on 21 June 2021
Georgia Brown, former Oakhill College Student, realised she wasn't ready to start university, so she applied for the Lasallian Volunteer program and never looked back.
Why did you volunteer?
While I was finishing Year 12, I realised I wasn't motivated enough to start university. I'd had a real sense of fulfilment by helping out and giving back when I went to the Philippines in Year 11 as an Lasallian Youth Leader. I had actually missed the deadline to volunteer for La Salle, but another girl had pulled out and I saw the advertisement which was to go to Yourtown in North Queensland, which appealed to me, so I applied and was lucky enough to be chosen.
Where were you placed?
I was placed at Yourtown in Deception Bay, Queensland for 11 months. Yourtown is a social work centre facilitated by volunteers who run a young parenting program to help out mums and dads under 25 and kids under 5. Most of the people at Yourtown are disadvantaged and have come from troubled backgrounds or poverty. Volunteers counsel the parents and we help them with all the responsibilities of parenting, as well as encourage them to have positive interactions with the kids.
What was the experience like?
A little bit daunting at first, as I was leaving all my friends and family. Also, Amy my volunteer partner and I were the first to go to Deception Bay, so we didn't have the chance to ask other people what it was like or know what the expectations were at Yourtown. We weren't sure what it would be like to live with the Brother's, but it was great. They were so interesting to talk to, inspiring and helpful and this was an awesome opportunity to live with and learn from them. They were very positive, experienced and well-travelled and we enjoyed listening to their stories. The Brother's had all retired up to Deception Bay as they enjoyed living in the community. It was a real family environment. I really enjoyed working with the families and I felt a real sense of fulfilment as I was making a difference to their lives and really helping them out.
What were the highs and lows of your time volunteering?
There were many highs, such as having the kids really opening up and trusting you. Also getting to know them and hearing their stories and life experiences were inspiring and motivating. I also worked in a school in Brisbane and formed close connections and friends particularly with Year 12. I feel like I gained so much knowledge and wisdom during my time away. There weren't many lows, but I did miss my family and friends at times and being away from home.
What advice do you have for anyone who is thinking of volunteering?
My advice would be to go for it. This is pretty much a once in a lifetime opportunity. It has helped me so much as a person and I have more clarity now about what I want to do with my life. I've got to see the many pathways that I can choose. This was such a good opportunity.
How has it been to move back to Sydney?
It is a bit weird moving back into my family home after being so independent and self-reliant for so long. I feel that I have improved as a person and definitely matured.
What are your plans for the future?
After my extended gap year, I am now working full time and planning to go to university next year to study psychology.