Author: Kevin Buckley

The personal rewards of giving back to the community

Our Regional Manager Kev Buckley continues his CUFA Leadership Challenge and discovers the personal rewards of giving back to the local community.

Earlier this year I participated in the Credit Union Foundation Australia Fijian Leadership Challenge.This challenge involved various components that tested physical, cultural, emotional and intellectual capabilities; but it also encouraged participants to take what they had learnt from their interactions in Fiji and engage with their local community once they returned home.

As part of my challenge, I was to perform 100 hours of volunteering work within my community. As a Regional Manager at The Greater, my role strongly revolves around interacting with others in my community, so the opportunity to give something back really invigorated me. As such, I decided to allocate 50 hours to the Cancer Council and 50 hours to the Heal For Life Foundation.

The Heal For Life Foundation has a special place in the hearts of The Greater’s staff and it plays a vital role in my community. Heal For Life provides residential healing programs for adults, young people and children who have experienced any form of childhood abuse and trauma.  With a child being abused in Australia every 13 minutes there is such a strong need for these programs.

At The Greater we often head up to the Heal For Life property for working bees. Not only does this provide much needed support to the workers at Heal For Life to ensure that the property is maintained, but it also provides our staff with a sense of unity and team building that is often unsurpassed. As such, I decided to use some of my hours and headed up to Heal For Life with nine other Greater employees on 2nd November.

I expected to return home that afternoon with a few blisters, sore back and crook knees after spending most of the day on a pick and shovel clearing lantana from the walking tracks, and sinking posts into ground that was harder than a bulls forward! But I actually came home with a whole lot more. I came home with respect for people who have a genuine interest for the wellbeing of other people, who selflessly give the major part of their lives to not only care but help heal broken lives.

After a hard morning’s work we shared a meal with some of the survivors of childhood trauma and abuse, carers who help run the program and the Founder and CEO of Heal For Life, Liz Mullinar. The survivors spoke of their journey from abuse to survival. These stories were not made colourful for the audience, they were honest and raw. I looked around at my fellow staff members and there were tears for these brave people who have healed and are now living a life they once thought was not achievable.

Most of the carers who help to run the programs are survivors of childhood trauma and abuse and they too gave us an understanding of what they endured, how they healed and what they are now doing to help other victims in need. The majority of these carers are unpaid and just eager to give back to the programs and people that saved their lives. These survivors were not all women. One man spoke of his journey and his story made even the most hardened in the room tear up.

Liz Mullinar then spoke about how she herself was a victim. Her gratitude for the contribution we were all making that day, and The Greater as a whole, was truly moving. I have never seen a woman so passionate and determined to ensure the welfare of others is guaranteed long after she leaves this world. Her legacy is guaranteed along with the foundation she has created.

Despite the work being rigorous, we all had such a significant sense of satisfaction from the small but appreciated effort we had put in that day. Not only did we get the chance to give back to these inspiring people but we all got the chance to work with others in our organisation that we hadn’t had the opportunity to work with before. I also had the opportunity to catch up with Ray Tolcher, one of the directors of Lawler Partners. I hadn’t seen Ray for some years and it was great to work shoulder to shoulder with a tool of choice and chew the fat from everything from finance to farming.

Arriving back to work it was evident that everyone had been moved by the emotion, honesty and passion we had witnessed that day. It created a bond between the ten of us and it was clear that the rewards well and truly exceeded the physical pain at the end of the day. I look forward to getting back up there and doing whatever I can to support this fantastic charity!