Sarah Stebbins comes from a family of volunteers.
'We were brought up to believe that you live in relationship to others – if someone needs help, you give it,' she says.
One of Sarah's first volunteering roles was working with women in prison, through the Prison Network Ministries. She has done that on and off for nine years, building strong relationships with women she helped inside prison and following up with them when they got out. Her work has also involved supporting the children and families of women in prison during what is a very tough time in their lives.
She found that for most of the women, their problems had stemmed from childhood – where they had little support and few opportunities.
She started to wonder what more she could do and decided that she could do something to help young girls.
'I wanted to invest my time and energy into girls when they are still young,' she says.
The Girl Guides provided Sarah with exactly that opportunity.
'I've done a lot of volunteering and Guides is one of the best organisations to volunteer for. You really feel like you're using your talents. There are so many opportunities and you're given a lot of support and encouragement to grow as a leader,' she says.
Sarah – her Girl Guide name is Jarrah – has been with Girl Guides for nearly five years now.
She runs the Mornington Starfish, a 27-strong unit of 7 to 10 year olds – and has just started up the Mornington Tadpoles for 5 to 7 year olds.
'The girls run in each week so happy and excited. It's so rewarding to see the joy they get out of it, especially when they accomplish something they've been trying to do.'
Sarah's also on the Girl Guides State Council and has just accepted the role of Deputy Region Manager for the organisation's Southern Region.
She says the most rewarding thing about being a volunteer is giving her time and skills with no expectation of gain. 'I'm just there to be used – I know I've met a need that was there – that I'm being helpful and useful. I'm not just sitting at home wasting my time – I'm able to provide benefit to someone.'
Volunteers make Guiding happen. From running a Guide Unit, to sharing a specialty skill, these volunteers inspire girls and young women to be their best.
Flexible volunteering makes it easy for people to share skills, time and energy in a way that suits their lifestyle. There is leadership training and support for volunteers to develop new skills which are transferable to other areas of life.
Children or adults can get involved in Girl Guides Australia, www.girlguides.org.au