Celebrating the unsung heroes of Seeing Eye Dogs for National Volunteer Week 2020: Part Two

20 May 2020

Continuing with our look into the wonderful unsung heroes of Seeing Eye Dogs, today we’ll be meeting Marlise and Stu. Marlise helps out with event planning and coordination, and Stu assists us with a wide range of admin support.

As one of our volunteer event coordinators, Marlise is one of the key reasons that we are able to attend as many events as we do. She explains her job in her own words.

“We receive requests for Seeing Eye Dogs representatives/clients to go to various speaking engagements, events, festivals, fetes, etc. My role is to liaise with the people running these events, then advertising them so our representatives can let us know if they are keen to go, and then coordinating to make sure we have someone attending, that they have the collateral, contact details of the organiser, address of the event, any special instructions etc. All in all making sure things run smoothly and that we’re not overloaded with events.”

Marlise is not new to the volunteer game. She has volunteered domestically and internationally in various capacities since the 1980s.

“I’m a bit of a serial volunteer” she says. “I first volunteered back in 1982. Volunteering can fit into many different stages of your life. Counting my time as a volunteer and also working for volunteer sending organisations, I have been involved with just under ten organisations over the years.”

“There are a million reasons to volunteer. For me it’s being in an area that interests me, learning new skills. Now I’m retired it’s staying connected to the community and having that structure in your life helps to keep a broader perspective. Volunteering adds a sense of purpose.”

 As someone who has had reasonable exposure to diverse volunteering, Marlise feels that volunteering is right for any age group.

“For younger people, it’s a great opportunity to expand your skills. For me now, it’s more about using my existing skills and contributing that way. Volunteer roles don't necessarily rely on professional experience only, your own life experience can be valuable, and you can use that to give back to the community.”

 At the end of the day for Marlise, volunteering is a win for everyone.

“I consider volunteering a win-win situation. A lot of people see volunteers as goody two-shoes or bleeding hearts, but it’s a truly two-way process. I have heard a volunteer say that they feel a bit guilty because they get more out of it than they feel they give back to their organisation of choice. What I have found truly inspiring about working with SED is the commitment and generosity of other volunteers, the carers and clients who are willing to share their knowledge and personal experience to ensure the success of speaking engagements and events.” 

Seeing Eye Dogs volunteer Stu
Seeing Eye Dogs volunteer Stu

They don’t often get praised but no organisation could function without some very talented individuals running administration tasks. Stu is one of the volunteers that helps keep the Seeing Eye Dogs admin on track. But what exactly does this entail?

“I help out by aiding the office staff with their responsibilities. Anything from sending/receiving mail, updating databases, organising info packages, helping maintain fleet documents, translating documents, and a whole lot more.”

Stu has been with Seeing Eye Dogs for roughly a year and a half now and his passion for volunteering is as strong as ever now.

“I wanted to volunteer, I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere. I essentially moved here on a temporary visa and it was a way for me to break out of my usual routine and contribute to the community.”

As someone here on a temporary visa, it also became a great way for Stu to forge new friendships.

“Volunteering is a great way to develop new skills and meet new people. At Seeing Eye Dogs specifically, I love the people, and they’ve been a pleasure to work with here. My weekly shift is sometimes the highlight of a mundane week. It’s unfortunate I can no longer show up due to COVID at the moment. Ultimately it’s about shaking up your life, meeting new people and developing new skills.”

Stu’s positive outlook is the embodiment of what we here at Seeing Eye Dogs want our volunteers to feel. Stu summed up his experience with one sentence.

“I think volunteering in any capacity that impacts lives or connects people is worth doing.”

We couldn’t agree more Stu!

Interested in volunteering at Vision Australia? To find out more head to our website or contact us on 1300 84 74 66 or at [email protected]