Alex volunteering

Report: Ms Leptos

A recent tour of student volunteers in the community saw me visit the St Vincent De Paul charity shop on the corner of Wood St and Plenty Rd, where Year 10 student Alex was doing his weekly volunteering.

Alex completed a six-month course of volunteer work in 2021 and enjoyed it so much that he took the elective a second time. This time around he is working under the supervision of Neil, a man with wide industry experience. Neil worked in the corporate world in a position where he was appointing people to very high level and responsible positions. Freely acknowledging that he has very high standards and is very selective in the staff that he appoints, it is gratifying that Neil has only the highest praise for Alex.  

“When I interviewed for positions, there was often a pile of applications,” he explains. “To get to an interview you need something that sets you apart and the work that Alex is doing is just the sort of thing that catches the eye of the employer.”

As duty manager of the shop, Neil needs to quickly assess his workers and place them appropriately. Alex now has experience in all aspects of the business, sorting goods, pricing, merchandising/product presentation and customer service. 

Mature, hardworking, well mannered and good with detail, Alex was very quickly promoted to working on the till. Neil is usually hesitant about placing young volunteers in this highly responsible role, but Alex’s work ethic saw him quickly being promoted. 

“He is very able and often stays much longer than required,” Neil says.

Alex is getting the maximum benefit out of his volunteering. He is picking up practical skills, but as Neil has observed, he is also demonstrating enormous emotional intelligence. There is such a wide cross section of society that come into charity shops. 

In Kew where Neil managed the Vinnies shop previously, he would get everyone from millionaires all the way through to people sleeping rough. Everyone needs to be treated with the same courtesy and this is something that Alex instinctively understands. 

“Manning the till, Alex is the first point of contact for the customers as they enter the shop, and he is both helpful and welcoming,” enthuses Neil.