Give Happy, Live Happy. This year’s slogan of our national volunteering week. With six million volunteers in Australia today, we think there might be something to it. Last week we took a moment to chat with one of Byron Community Centre’s 300+ volunteers, Linda Marheine to learn about what it means to be a volunteer in our community and to hear about her program Money Matters.
“After arriving in Byron I volunteered to help myself acclimatise and to continue working in administration which I had done most of my working life.” Recalls Linda.
“I found a welcoming group of busy staff who relied on and highly valued the volunteers who were so willingly there because they want to be there. What I also found, over time, was that it was the clients who kept me volunteering at the centre.” She Says.
Linda volunteers as a Loan’s officer on the Byron Community No Interest Loans scheme (NILS). This scheme provides No interest loans to community members living on a low income. The centre makes no profit from the program, and it is run predominantly by volunteers.
It was while volunteering on NILS that Linda realised some clients needed more support to get back on track financially, “While many of our NILS clients are getting on okay financially, it became clear to me that others were having significant trouble managing their money, and this leads them into debt or major difficulty covering bills and commitments.” She says.
“I realised a more personal and intense budgeting session could help to arrange their finances in a way that ease their money stresses and improve their management” She Says.
So what did she do? Just that, Linda went to the Community Centre’s general manager Paul Spooner with an idea, and within a few weeks had launched Money Matters – one on one budgeting sessions for locals living on a low income.
That’s the beauty of volunteering in this place – volunteers are enabled and appreciated – ideas are valued and everyone here can really have an impact on our community.
So what is money matters?
“Put simply, it’s a private and confidential chat about all things money in your life. We look at expenses, bank accounts, shopping habits, insurance… whatever is relevant to your situation. And we work together to come up with a simple money plan – a budget.” Says Linda.
And why do you run it?
I feel that when someone feels out of control in any area of their lives there can be a flow on to other areas. I have felt great satisfaction when past clients have arrived for our session showing signs of suspicion, anxiety, hopelessness, embarrassment and then left excited, hopeful, and confident. Many have asked for continued support as they set up their positive money plan.
When and where can people come to see you?
“Monday afternoons and soon to be Friday afternoons in the Byron Community Centre.”