Buddies provide a special welcome for new Shop Volunteers

Kathy Hoover, Port Stephens Area Centres President, was keen to launch a new Buddy Program in the Vinnies shops in the Port Stephens area of NSW. Kathy is a member of the Welcoming Circle and shares with us the success this Valuing Youth project.

The Buddy Program is about developing appropriate welcoming initiatives for new members and volunteers. A Buddy is someone who will welcome new volunteers to the centre and is someone new volunteers can talk to.Kathy Hoover, Port Stephens Area Centres President

Beginning in mid 2016, the six Vinnies Shops in Port Stephens Area provided a buddy for all new volunteers. The Buddy is an experienced volunteer that is rostered on the same day and helps to welcome and be a companion to the new volunteer in their first few weeks.

The Anna Bay Centre began the Buddy Program and it soon grew to include the other shops in the area: Dungog, Nelson Bay, Raymond Terrace, Tanilba Bay and Tea Gardens.

The feedback has been very positive from both the new volunteers and the Buddies.

Kiara began at the Anna Bay Vinnies as part of her “Duke of Edinburgh Award” which requires the student to engage in voluntary work for a 3 month period. When Kiara completed her voluntary hours for the award she decided to stay on with working with her buddy, Mikala, on a Saturday.

Mikala shares her experience of being a buddy, “I have really enjoyed buddying Kiara, and training her in the sorting area, customer service and how to use the cash register. As I am training her, I am learning from Kiara myself. It is wonderful to see how her confidence has grown. We are delighted she continues to volunteer every Saturday and extra hours during the school holidays.”
Other new volunteers share their experiences:

Patricia writes, “I have been here for a few months now and enjoy my time here. My co-workers have been very friendly and helpful and some days are a lot of fun”.

Bernice shares, “I have only been with Vinnies Anna Bay for 4 weeks but have found all the staff to be welcoming and helpful. I am still learning but I feel that I am fitting in with this happy group at Vinnies Anna Bay”.

The Valuing Youth Welcoming Circle members celebrate the success of this pilot and commend Kathy for this great initiative. It will continue across the Port Stephens area and we encourage other Vinnies Shops to begin a similar program and/or share their experiences of welcoming new volunteers and employees to our Retail Centres.

If you would like any more information about the program, please contact Kathy Hoover, Port Stephens Area Centres President on Kathy.Hoover@vinnies.org.au

The Welcoming and Pathways Circle members are keen to hear your stories of welcoming new members and volunteers. Have you tried a buddy system in your shop or Conference? What difference has it made? Please share your experience in the ‘Comments’ below or e-mailing us at kate.scholl@vinnies.org.au