Carolyn Stamp has been a youth mentor with Uniting Vic.Tas for six years. She spoke to Michaela Meade about why she volunteers, and what she loves about the northern suburbs.
What’s your connection to the northern suburbs?
I have lived in the Northern suburbs my whole life. I grew up here with my family and went to school at Lalor East Primary School and Lalor North Secondary College.
What do you enjoy most about the area?
I have my family and some of my friends living in the local area. At the moment, with the whole COVID-19 situation, I have been fortunate to be able to work from home over the past 18 months or so and I have been spending more time in the local area appreciating all it has to offer. It has been wonderful not having to commute each day to work and to have a slower pace. Everything I need is right here, as I live very close to a train station and all of the local shopping centres. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in this area to choose from. The area also has some great parks and areas to exercise. The best thing about having a five kilometre limit was that it made me explore the local area more and find some new walking tracks and parks with lakes.
What’s your favourite local cafe/restaurant and why?
My favourite local café is Kinn Thai Restaurant at Plenty Valley shopping centre, as I love Thai food and have loved all of their dishes that I have tried.
Could you please tell me about your involvement in volunteering for Uniting?
I have been involved with Uniting as a volunteer youth mentor for the past six years. I had been looking for a volunteer opportunity for quite some time before I came across the advertisement for the role at Uniting. I was drawn to that position as it involved supporting a young person aged 11-17 that may have experienced some difficult life circumstances and it was an opportunity to build a relationship with a young person. I liked the idea of getting to know a young person over a minimum period of 12 months. I have had three mentees of differing ages over the six years. They have all had different personalities and have brought so much joy and fulfilment in to my life. I am still in contact with a former mentee who is now an adult – they complete the program once turn 18 years old and if both parties agree the relationship is able to continue outside of the program. I have been with my current mentee for well over two years now and things have been going really well. We get along fabulously and I have really been inspired by her strength, resilience and that she never complains despite what she has been through in life. We have done some really fun activities together along the journey – karaoke, watched some movies together, shopping and sometimes we just go for a drive and have a chat. It is wonderful to see how the young people I have mentored have grown in self-confidence and self-belief over the journey. We often have group activities and Christmas gatherings where all the mentors and mentees get together, so it has been a great opportunity to meet people. The role has been really rewarding and I am so grateful to have been given part of this program. There has been amazing support from Uniting throughout the whole time I have been involved in the program. We have the youth mentoring co-ordinator, Christina, who is always a phone call away if we need some advice or support in our role.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I wanted to be a nurse or a vet when I was a child. I quickly grew out of that when the sight of blood freaked me out.