SECC Volunteer Manager Sue Ohanian talks about the experience of steering her team through two lockdowns.
Sue Ohanian has managed a team of over 60 volunteers through a tough couple of years.
Starting with the pandemic of 2020, and more recently the lockdown of 2021, Sue has worked hard to keep spirits high.
Sue says 2021 was harder than 2020 due to the impact of the Delta strain.
“In 2020, volunteers were more upbeat and keen to come back,” she says.
“In 2021 their enthusiasm was still there, but like everyone they were very cautious due to the risks involved with Delta.
“I was concerned for them as individuals, and wanted to make sure they were OK. Keeping in contact was important, and on both occasions I endeavoured to contact and/or visit most of them at least once.”
Sue says 2021 has been a scary time for everyone, but SECC volunteers remained upbeat.
“Many of our team jumped at the opportunity to diversify their roles,” she says.
“Instead of their normal duties they helped with phone welfare checks on vulnerable clients, for example. Their desire to help and their ability to vary things up was admirable to say the least.”
Sue recalls one particular long-standing volunteer, who told her: ‘I love to help because it helps me. I’m getting really lonely at home, and volunteering keeps me going.’
“That was a defining moment for me,” Sue says.
“The dedication and commitment of our volunteers never ceases, even during lockdown.”
As restrictions ease, Sue is balancing the desire of volunteers to recommence with the reality that not all programs have re-opened.
“Some programs aren’t running, so some volunteers are happy to wait till the new year for safety reasons.”
However, Sue says she is really looking forward to seeing her volunteers in person over coming weeks, and hopefully organising an end-of-year function for the team.
“We’re really looking forward to being back together again,” she says.