“Lovely, helpful and as well as that, really nice to chat to. She has an excellent rapport with the other workers too.” That wonderful assessment of William Ruthven student Shannan Giampa was made by Terri, one of the adult volunteers, who has had the pleasure of working with Shannan every Friday for the last few months.
“She is great. She mucks in and lends a hand with all the jobs,” Terri says.
Many older locals volunteer at the Edwardes St Vincent De Paul charity shop but Terri is particularly happy to see a young person like Shannan stepping up to help the community.
When I ask Shannan what sort of jobs she has done, it very much sounds like there hasn’t been a part of the business that she has not been involved in. Shannan has worked at everything from sorting donated goods in the back store, to tagging, pricing, working the register, arranging displays and serving.
At school, Shannan, is the archetypal quiet student, but in the environment of the charity shop it is clear that she has blossomed with confidence.
“I was so surprised at myself and how confident I’ve become,” Shannan says. “I never thought I could just walk up to strangers and start a conversation with them. It’s funny sometimes; people come in and expect a full range of sizes and colours. I don’t think they understand how a charity shop works”.
Thriving on the challenges that she has been given by her supervisor, Barry Kennett, Shannan has discovered a myriad of things she can do. The manager teams Shannan with different staff members each week and today, as I visit Shannan at her volunteer placement, I find her working with Katrina, who is completing her tertiary qualifications in community services. Both students are getting valuable practical experience that will help them in their future careers.
“Before the Y Challenge, volunteering I was very hesitant. I was really surprised at how much I could do and the skills that I was able to pick up. I’ve had such a great experience that I’ll be asking if I can do the Y Challenge unit again next year. It’s been really enjoyable,” explains Shannan.
On the back of this highly positive and affirming experience, Shannan has reached out to apply for retail jobs.
“Beyond school, I want to work in a medical field,” she says. “I would love to be either a midwife or an ER nurse, but that’s a long time off, and a retail position can be stepping stone and help me pay for my studies.”
– Report by Lillian Leptos