Volunteering opens hearts and doors for Daniele, who first learnt about volunteering with Centacare through her casual work as a cleaner in one of their offices.
Daniele, 33, is just one of 170 Centacare volunteers who we celebrate this National Volunteer Week (16 – 22 May) – a week we pay homage to those who generously give their skills, talents and time to make a difference in the lives of the people we support.
“As a young girl growing up in Brazil, I dreamed of becoming a leader in the business world,” said Daniele.
“I looked around the office I was cleaning and thought ‘I want to work here!’ so I approached the Human Resources department to discuss opportunities for volunteering”.
Daniele completed a masters degree in strategy and management in Brazil and set her sights on obtaining a student visa so she could study English abroad. English is used extensively in business in Brazil and Daniele knew learning the language was a critical part of realising her dream.
In 2019, she settled in Brisbane, choosing the smaller Australian city for its warmer climate and proximity to the Gold Coast’s beaches, which reminded her of her home in Rio de Janiero.
Daniele has been volunteering with Centacare Prisoners Services, a professional support service for people released from prison and about to be released from prison, and their families. The service provides mental health support, counselling, advocacy and some practical support. Danielle works in the South Brisbane office, welcoming clients, answering the phone and opening and processing mail.
“As the first point of contact for clients, Daniele plays a very important role in our service and she does it beautifully,” said Senior Mental Health Social Worker Cherelle Evans.
“We get lots of enquiries, via phone and in-person and the people who come to us are often frightened and emotionally exhausted from their experiences. We also get a lot of mail, including from prisoners who are seeking support with their parole or upon their release. We respond to every single letter but, of course, some need to be prioritised over others.
“Daniele follows the system we have in place to ensure we provide the right services at the right time. She is a warm, friendly person who can put the people we support at ease and help them feel comfortable.”
“This is the first opportunity I’ve had to use the skills and abilities I’ve gained through my studies in a practical way – I’m very grateful for that,” said Daniele.
“The most important thing I have learned is that ‘if you can help, why not?’ I’m grateful to work in a role that helps gives people a second chance. There is prejudice around people who have been in prison. We need to break the prejudice and open our hearts to help them.”
Across our wide range of services our volunteers are all committed to doing everything they can to ensure the people we support are not just cared for but cared about in ways that help them live their fullest lives and achieve their personal aspirations. Find out more about volunteering at Centacare.