My Place: Natasha Smith | Wyndham

Hoppers Crossing teenager Natasha Smith, 19, has been selected One Wyndham award winner for January by Wyndham council. One Wyndham recipients are residents aged between 12 and 25 years old who positively contribute to the community. Ms Smith chats with Alesha Capone.

How do you feel to be named as a One Wyndham recipient?

I feel proud, special and honored. It’s an achievement I could not have done without many people who made any volunteer role I’ve ever held unforgettable. I do not volunteer for the recognition, but to help others in any way that I can. I’m just one of many volunteers.

You regularly volunteer at St Vincent de Paul and serve as secretary for the St Vincent de Paul Hoppers Crossing North conference?

The Hoppers Crossing North Conference takes care of Tarneit, Truganina and some of Hoppers Crossing. We do weekly home visits to people in these areas who are more than just struggling to put food on the table, we serve a wide range of different cases. We help in terms of material and food aid to those in need, but I also feel like more than that – also a listening ear or a little bit of guidance to someone who is feeling a bit lost. I also volunteer in other areas such as the St James Church, Werribee Hockey Club and other areas of St Vincent de Paul.

Why did you start volunteering, in the first place?

My mum has been an active member of St Vincent de Paul Hoppers Crossing North for over 10 years now, and I started off by just packing Christmas hampers at our St Vinnies Christmas Appeal. It all started there, but there have been endless amounts of influences such as my mum, my dad, my family, my teachers and my friends who all pushed me to do things when I did not believe in myself.

You’re a Werribee Hockey Club coach, too?

I’ve been playing there for probably about 10 years now and have grown up being taught often by volunteer coaches. It’s a great family sport club and a great second family I have.

What inspired you to study a Bachelor of Prosthetics and Orthotics at university?

As you may have figured out, I love to help others and this course really stood out to me. I wanted to find a job in healthcare and while it took a bit of time to find and figure out, I just happened to stumble past Prosthetics and Orthotics in the university handbook. Since that day I accidentally stumbled past the course, it became my dream job and I worked hard so I could get into the course to make sure I could pursue my passion.

What is your advice to others?

To get out there and volunteer – no matter your age. Whether it’s at school, one day a year or at your local sports club, something so little can make a huge difference. St Vincent de Paul has plenty of places you can volunteer in the Wyndham area. Our store in Hoppers Crossing is always looking for volunteers. Also, donate. The great thing about St Vincent de Paul is that anything that you donate to our St Vinnies Op Shop and that is sold in our store goes directly back out to the community. Finally, if you are struggling, there is help. If you are not coping well, do not be scared or ashamed to reach out for help, because that’s what we volunteers are here for. The St Vincent de Paul welfare hotline number is 1800 305 330.

One Wyndham awards are given out every month. Details: www.wyndham.vic.gov.au/services/youth-services/awards-competitions/one-wyndham

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