It’s National Volunteer Week across the country, so here at the Y we are celebrating our incredible volunteers. Last year, over 1,200 volunteers contributed a combined total of more than 112,000 hours of their time to the Y.
Our volunteers enrich this organisation, and the YMCA is lucky to have so many passionate, dedicated and generous individuals that give their time and energy to an array of Y programs and services.
One volunteer that brings to the Y a passion for helping others, in particular young people, is Nicole Comelli. Nicole has been volunteering for over three years with the Y, and at the ripe old age of 22, she shows leadership and dedication beyond her years.
Nicole volunteers with the YMCA’s Youth Leadership and Development Unit, often for YMCA Connect Camp. YMCA Connect Camp is a camp program designed for young people aged 8-16 who are considered vulnerable, disadvantaged or at-risk, and generally live in care or supported accommodation.
“The aim for volunteers at Connect Camp is to work closely with young people and act as positive role models for them. Connect creates an environment that allows the participants to gain a strong sense of self-worth and self-confidence,” says Nicole.
When Nicole was 19, she worked as an integration aide at a high school, mostly with youth that had experienced some form of trauma in their life.
“From there, I knew I had the qualities to connect with young people and help them feel accepted and comfortable in their skin, something that can often be challenging for these particular young people... I wanted to do as much as I could to learn about and work with young people, so I decided to join the Connect team, and I've been with the YMCA ever since!”
Nicole now works as a high school teacher and it’s clear her passion for young people is unstoppable. To work full time with young people and still have the motivation and energy to volunteer her time over the school holidays, Nicole’s genuine care for what she does is inspirational.
“Working with young people gives me purpose, and I'll put all of my energy into helping them see the amazing qualities they have, even if they don't believe it themselves yet.”
When she’s working with young people, being supported and guided by other inspiring adults, and using her energy to fuel others, Nicole says this is when she feels most valued.
And she couldn’t be more valued by the Y.
Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers. The Y would not be able to do all that it does without you!