Firefighter by day, volunteer by night - OzChild

Firefighter by day, volunteer by night

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22 October 2018

Working as a mentor has helped one of OzChild’s volunteers better relate to the children and young people he deals with in the course of his work.

As a shift worker, Max McQueen often felt he should be doing something more productive during his downtime, so he decided to investigate volunteering.

“As a firefighter I occasionally attend emergencies with children involved, so I thought volunteering with children would help me learn how to better relate to them and make them feel comforted during what can sometimes be traumatic experiences for them,” Max said.

“I often had time off during the week when my friends and family were busy, so I thought becoming a volunteer would be a really beneficial way to spend some of my spare time.”

Max, who has been volunteering with OzChild’s Positive Horizions program for just over 12 months, typically mentors his young charge between 3 – 5 hours each week depending on the activities they plan.

“I usually pick him up from school one day a week and we’ll do an activity that we’ve planned together. Anything from a visit to the pool, to kicking the footy to cooking dinner for his family,” Max said.

“We’ve had a heap of fun experiences over the last year, but I think my favourite thing has been watching his confidence grow.

“When I first took him to the park he was hesitant about even climbing to the top of the play equipment but just recently he told me that he went on the flying fox and giant swing at the school camp and wasn’t even scared. I felt intensely proud of him.”

Max had volunteered previously with other organisations such as St John’s Ambulance and Meals on Wheels but is really enjoying his role as a mentor in the Positive Horizons program.

“Honestly it has been such a rewarding experience; to know that by offering a child some consistency in their life and listening to them, you can really foster a sense of support that gives them courage to face the challenges that childhood presents,” Max said.

“I’ve also learnt a lot about how best to relate to children, and that in turn has given me the confidence to be able to support them appropriately when we attend emergencies at work.”

Volunteers are crucial to the work that OzChild does with children and families and Max is encouraging other residents living in the Shire of Cardinia to consider volunteering.

To find out more about becoming a volunteer with OzChild’s Positive Horizons call Claire on 8796 000 or cmasterson@ozchild.org.au.

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