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The Change Makers – National Volunteer Week 2023

From 15–21 May 2023, we’ll join people and organisations across the country in celebration of National Volunteers Week, an annual celebration of volunteering and our power to drive change through collective altruism.

This year’s theme, The Change Makers, is particularly fitting. The impact our growing and connected community of volunteers has on the lives of those we serve is immeasurable, from the Caregivers who open their hearts and homes to children through the Wesley Aunties & Uncles program to the Energisers who teach new skills to older people at Wesley School for Seniors and the Communicators who drive Wesley Lifeforce, our national suicide prevention program.

Did you know this year we’re celebrating 60 years of Lifeline? In 21/22, our volunteers answered 55,531 calls to Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland service.

This year we’ll be celebrating the many accomplishments of our volunteers at a series of events across New South Wales. We’re eternally grateful for their continued commitment to giving their time, skills and effort to do all the good they can for those in most need.

Interested in becoming a volunteer? 

Congratulations to our Volunteer of the Year Awards’ winners!

Be inspired by the amazing work of our volunteers and discover why they were chosen as winners for the Wesley Mission’s 2022 Volunteer of the Year Awards. Meet our winners below.

Michael (Mick) Sheldon

Wesley Connect, Pastoral Care


Stu and Mick taking an image
Michael (Mick) Sheldon

Having experienced homelessness, suffered from addiction and been diagnosed with cancer in the past, Mick knows all too well the value of a service like Wesley Connect, which offers hospitality, pastoral care and connection to people in crisis.


Volunteering three days a week, Mick has a servant heart, who’s always ready to help with whatever needs doing and choses to stay back after closing to support with pack up.


“There is a humbleness in how he serves others,” shares Felisa, Wesley Connect Team leader. “I have seen him grow in integrity and am always encouraged to see his commitment to show up, roll up his sleeves and serve to the best of his ability.”


Mick regularly engages in caring conversations with people who walk through Wesley Connect’s doors. Having faced difficult life circumstances and overcome them, Mick openly shares his experiences with those he serves and the Wesley Connect team.


Mick has also devoted time to researching community services that offer food. He’s collated this information for the Wesley Connect team to use to link people who need food to local food providers.


“Mick has a particular gift in listening and helping those most isolated in community to feel included. He has a deep heart for the elderly, which I have personally witnessed, making sure they have a chair, drink [or if they] need any help,” says Lucy, Wesley Mission Chaplain.

Michael Shephard

Wesley Fundraising, Planned Giving, Solicitor at Wesley Wills Days

Image of two men holding award
Michael Shephard

Senior Partner at Shephard & Shephard Solicitors in Parramatta, Michael has volunteered his time and resources to support Wesley Wills Days for the last 17 years. On average, Michael consults up to 20 people during a four-hour session, to date he has volunteered at 22 Wesley Wills Days and seen over 240 clients.


Throughout his time supporting Wesley Wills Days, Michael has never knocked back a request and all work he’s carried out for Wesley Mission has been pro bono – providing a service for free. And the small cost clients pay to have their Will done at Wesley Wills Days goes back to supporting Wesley Mission’s community services and programs.


“Michael’s mission is fuelled by a deep sense of purpose, and he responds to our call to help those in need because he believes in doing all the good he can, just like Jesus Christ in Word & deed,” says Stephen, Wesley Fundraising Planned Giving Manager.

Sam Maitra and teams

Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention and Wesley Hospitals, Actuaries

9 people taking an image
Sam Maitra and teams

Led by Sam Maitria, two teams of actuaries volunteered their time at Wesley Mission across four months to develop solutions for two Wesley Mission community services – Wesley LifeForce and Wesley Hospitals. Actuaries are highly skilled, sought-after professionals who have a deep understanding of mathematics, statistics and business management.


The Wesley LifeForce team developed a social impact capability tool, which can influence suicide prevention policy and government investment. This tool will help demonstrate to these two groups the value of giving upfront funding to Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks.


The Wesley Hospitals team provided us with a detailed understanding of trends, profiles of people who seek Wesley Hospitals services and the costs of providing these services across our two hospitals in Kogarah and Ashfield. This analysis will support Wesley Mission to manage our services more effectively.


“Teams provided unique, valuable insights that have provided clarity and awareness that will help shape and inform the future of both programs,” says Tracey, Wesley Business Growth & Change Manager.


“Each team member, led by seasoned actuary and mentor, Sam Maitra, acted with the utmost integrity and commitment as they delved into unfamiliar territory, and tackled each challenge with the understanding that Wesley Mission works because we believe we’re here to do all the good we can.”

Bob Horton and Tom Mazzitelli

Wesley Taylor Narrabeen, Bus drivers


2 men taking a photo
Bob Horton and Tom Mazzitelli

For the last eight years Bob has driven residents around on the Wesley Taylor Narrabeen bus. Then two-and-a-half years ago, Tom joined the bus driving team to support Bob. Both retired, Bob and Tom are genuinely devoted to going above and beyond for residents, taking them to the shops, appointments and on outings.


Some of our residents at Wesley Taylor Narrabeen don’t have family who can take them on outings or run errands and are appreciative to have volunteers like Bob and Tom who give their time. And the residents always return laughing and smiling after their trips on the Village bus with Bob or Tom.


“They have such a wonderful presence that all our residents feel secure and enjoy their company enormously,” explains Farzana, Wesley Retirement Living Lifestyle Coordinator.


“Bob and Tom are the very epitome of Wesley Mission’s values. They are committed to helping our residents find joy during outings and treat everyone they come across with care and great respect.”

Paul Hurst

Wesley School for Seniors, Council Chair, Tutor and IT backup


Stu and paul taking a photo with award
Paul Hurst

Paul wears a few hats when he volunteers at Wesley School for Seniors. As Council Chair, Paul organises an occasional forum to provide support and advice to new and existing Wesley School for Seniors’ tutors. Paul is a tutor too and teaches a few courses including, Online History Comes, Online Adventures in Art, Online Thursday Forum and Online Guitar (Intermediate). Paul was also instrumental in setting up online courses for Wesley School for Seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic and now he continues to provide technical support for the online courses when needed.


“Paul has a genuine heart to support the growth of Wesley School for Seniors. He is very generous with his time and always looks out for tutors, students and me. As I’m new in the role, Paul often calls me to check that I’m ok and offer me advice and help,” shares Elizabeth, Wesley School for Seniors Program Manager.

Kalani Hurst

Wesley Mission Newcastle Community Hub, Client Support Volunteer


11 people taking a photo
Kalani Hurst

As a Client Support Volunteer for Wesley Mission’s Newcastle Community Hub, Kalani is the first point of contact for someone reaching out for support. Kalani ensures every person who reaches out genuinely feels heard, understood and experiences connection.

“Kalani is friendly, bubbly, always listen with a kind ear and heart. Her caring disposition creates a positive interaction, which ensures clients are engaged, building trust and never giving up hope,” says Leanne, Wesley Mission Newcastle Community Hub Coordinator.
Kalani’s standout quality is her genuine compassion to ensure every person who comes through our doors is advocated for.

“Her eagerness and willingness to do whatever she can to assist our most vulnerable clients, inspire and lead other volunteers, as well as her ability to ensure hope, is stamped upon every client’s journey and is invaluable,” Leanne explains.
“As a supervisor, something that really stands out about Kalani is her genuine interest in listening to the client’s story as well as her courageous commitment to never give up, advocating and ensuring a positive outcome for all clients.”

Currently studying an Associate Diploma in Community Services, , Kalani says she’s developed important skills for her future career while volunteering at Wesley Mission.

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