It was the week before Christmas 2012 when Jane Gang, then a corporate events manager, took a slightly panicked call from a friend in need. The Salvation Army was about to host a Christmas Day lunch but corporate support had fallen short and they were in desperate need of her organisational expertise.
“Of course I came along to volunteer, we managed to bring it altogether, and I had a wonderful experience,” said Jane. “It was great to bring my commercial skills into an organisation where I could help so many people.”
While working on the Salvo’s Christmas lunch, which is supported by Coca‑Cola, Jane realised it might be possible to take the skills she already had into a job which would inspire her in other ways.
“I had a good job, but to be honest it all felt a bit shallow,” Jane said. “So I began volunteering more for the Salvation Army, and eventually applied for a role as the Store Manager at Streetwear, the Salvation Army Store in Surry Hills.”
Mostly staffed by volunteers, Streetwear is part of the Streetlevel community centre. The centre offers a range of services including low-cost meals, emergency welfare assistance, shower and laundry facilities.
More importantly Streetlevel provides some the country’s most disadvantaged people with a safe place to learn new skills, have a meal or simply have a chat with other staff and patrons.
Since making the transition Jane says she is happier because she feels her work is actually making a difference to society. It’s a view shared by part-time accountant and Salvo’s volunteer Ruby Nguyen, who works with Jane.
“The reason I come and volunteer is that I know the work I do helps other people and that makes me really happy,” Nguyen said. “I get a chance to learn different skills and a chance to be really close to the community.”
According to Jane her career change has inspired a few of her friends to take similar measures in their own lives.
“I’ve started a bit of a trend,” said Jane. “Now I have another friend who’s working helping homeless people, and others have started volunteering, because they’ve seen how happy it makes me.”
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