Carol and Sue have volunteered at the Ballarat Hospice Care Op Shop since its inception nine years ago. When asked how they became involved, Carol replied
“I wanted something to do after my husband died, I saw the ad in the paper and immediately thought that would be perfect.” Sue who was working part time had similar thoughts about the suitability of the volunteer role.
Both Carol and Sue had a connection to the palliative care cause through personal family experiences. What they did not expect is that they would still be in the shop and loving the experience of volunteering many years later.
Sue and Carol provided a myriad of reasons as to why they volunteer at the Op Shop; the fun, the friendships formed, having ownership and a say in shop operations, the customers, and knowing that their work not only supports Ballarat Hospice Care but also supports the community.
When talking about friendships, Sue said “We are all great friends, there is a strong bond and we support each other when things are tough. It’s really quite special, and we are very social outside our volunteering time,” adding “The Op Shop is our happy friendship shop.”
Another area not to be overlooked are the values of Ballarat Hospice Care at work; loyalty, kindness, honesty, respect, trust, skill and willingness. Sue said “We know when some of our customers need a little extra kindness and compassion; we are able to provide that to them.”
Both Sue and Carol said they feel especially pleased with the amount of money the Op Shop makes on behalf of and for Ballarat Hospice Care. They know the money raised goes toward extending the special care provided by Ballarat Hospice Care and that is an important factor in the volunteer experience.
As far as working in the shop, Sue said “It is great to meet the customers and we have many repeat customers, some of who come in on the same day each week, so friendships are formed with our customers, too.” Recently a customer described the Op Shop as the ‘happiest Op Shop’. This was a touching comment for the volunteers as they appreciate the connection the customers have to the shop.
Customers have their own reasons to support the Op Shop. For some it is the wonderful care provided by Ballarat Hospice Care for a loved one. For others it is a friendly place where you can find great bargains, or it is simply the ‘best’ Op Shop and a sense of wanting to give to a local community service.
Carol and Sue described the generosity of customers who make cash donations on top of their purchase and others who say “No, nothing today, but here’s a donation.” Customer generosity is part of the appeal of working in the shop. Carol said “Not one person has ever said a bad word about Ballarat Hospice Care in the all the time I have volunteered.”
One area not to be overlooked is the work that happens behind the scenes at the warehouse. This is where donations are sorted and cleaned, ready for sale. It completely supports the quality merchandise available in the shop. The regular warehouse volunteers are not only dedicated; they are a lot of fun to work with, too.
This year the Op Shop refreshed its look and is now the Ballarat Hospice Care Op Shop. Formerly it was known as the Friends of Hospice Op Shop. The former name came about at the time the Op Shop was established in 2014 with input by ‘The Friends of Hospice’ events group.
We value the dedication and commitment of all our Op Shop volunteers who make the Op Shop such an important aspect of Ballarat Hospice Care.