People choose to volunteer for avariety of reasons. Volunteers are the most important resource communityorganizations have.
For myself volunteering at the Hamodava cafe which is ahomeless shelter in Bourke Street offered the chance to give something back tothe community and to make a difference to the people around me. In short itgave me the opportunity to try something new, gain experience, develop skills,improve my career prospects, build confidence and meet new people. It also provided a natural sense ofaccomplishment by working for the betterment of others. At the Hamodava cafe I was required toengage with and welcome all community members/visitors while identifyingcommunity member needs and refer to staff for action. Myself and my team madesure each meal is presented well, deliver meals to customers and cleaning upback of house.
I came to Australia a couple of months ago and I used to wonderhow a country like this can still have homelessness, but now I know thatanybody can become homeless any time. Clients here have had some sort of healthcrisis and come here for stabilization. Many of them have mental-healthproblems or addictions.One of theexperiences I encountered volunteering at the cafe was when I was faced with amentally ill, aggressive customer. When dealing with customers I always had inmind that a difficult customer remains your customer irrespective of his or heractions. When the lunch time was over he approached me and told me to take hisorder. Our manager had informed us to not take any orders since the food wastaken back to the kitchen. After I apologized and responded that we weren’tsupposed to take orders he got a bit impatient and told me to bring him food.
I felt that he was desiring extraordinaryattention. So I made him sit and offered him a coffee and started to have asmall conversation with him since others were all busy cleaning up thepremises. I tried remaining friendly at all times, didn’t attempt to argue withhim. His temper gradually went down and heunderstood the situation. I was neverintimidated by his actions because I knew I represented the café. The HamodavaCafé run by the Salvation Army is a community center providing breakfast, lunchand fair-trade coffee, as well as support to people from all walks of life,especially those living on the margins of society (Whatson.
melbourne.vic.gov.au,2018). Hamodava Cafe’s primary purpose is about building relationshipswith people and developing a strong sense of belonging and acceptance for alland to assist them out of their current state of homelessness (Pro BonoAustralia, 2018). A wide demographic walk through the café doors, fromyouths to the elderly, but all with a common need for inclusion.
The café creates an employment pathway for many of its needycustomers, with the opportunity to be trained in hospitality and servefood and drinks to patrons. (BeanScene Magazine, 2018)Behind thebrick wall, however, is the work of The Salvation Army, an internationallyrecognized social welfare service, devoted to enriching the lives of thosesuffering from social poverty. The laneway that once housed homelesspeople and served food to the needy has turned into a vibrant café that isproviding employment opportunities.
The Hamodava Café. In a move toencourage social equality, the café opens weekdays and invites customers fromall walks of life to indulge in breakfast, morning tea and lunch menus – at nocost, or gold coin donation. For many, this is their only chance to be servedin such an environment.
The professional dining space with restaurant-sizetables and chairs, china, cutlery and flower arrangements is another strengththat keeps the organization running. The interior invites a homey feel with oldrelics such as brass band instruments and historic copies of Salvation Armyposters from the 1800s. However thereare some weaknesses that are yet to overcome to improve the restaurant in thelong run. The wait staff sometimes creates a weakness in the Hamodava cafésince they aren’t provided with adequate training such as showing how theyshould attend to tables or explaining to culinary personnel how you want foodprepared and presented.
One of the major reasons for this issue would be thatthe management would not want to force them to get things done since they aredoing voluntary work and to not make them feel uncomfortable or offended.Another weakness is that the Hamodava café runs out of supplies occasionally inthe menu for example milk, yogurt etc. and it would create a bottleneck in thebusy day to day running of the café.Hamodavacafé which is run by the Salvation Army has found many opportunities byexpanding and providing different types of services such as AMP 614 Youth Bus, The Vault Youth Space, YouthStreet, Salvos Metro Transit, Bella’s Friendship Club, The Marketplace, Wholein The Wall Café, Hamodava Coffee Van, The International Couch, Mobile Outreachetc. Some of the opportunities are that the Hamodava café is fast growing, a lot of people love drinkingcoffee, spending time with friends at cafes or even alone time there. Its waysare already grasped by many, its saturation is also a good thing. The targetlocation is accessible to the target market. Moreover a high-end café to bepatronized, a lot of people who love coffee are looking for new places,desiring a new taste, and the smell of new aroma as well as having a rotatingmenu that offers a variety of optionsfor the homeless.
When taking the threats into consideration the competition available thatoffers similar food types and service expectations in your area, Priceuncertainties affect everyone within the food industry from the supplier andproducer right through to the restaurant owners. Some of the food is providedby Second Bite, an organization that sources nutritious fresh food and producefrom food wholesales, farmers and food businesses that might otherwise go towaste. Public fundraising, which includesthe Red Shield Appeal, raises vital funds to support The Salvation Army’sprograms across Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and theNorthern Territory. The Salvation Army invests 21% of funds raised intoactivities that ensure their financial sustainability.
79% assists thecommunity through their various social programs. (My.salvationarmy.org.au,2018). Other forms the Salvation Army uses to raise funds are by the Donationsthey receive by the support of caring people, getting regular monthly donations,various fundraisers, by sponsoring a child, sharing gifts and other goods amongthe community for Christmas, the salvos stores where unwanted goods are beendonated and the profits raised from Salvos Stores are directed back to vitalservices, transforming lives in our community. In the 2015/16 financial year,Salvos Stores raised $21.5 million to fund support services around Australia.
The volunteering experience I had at the Hamodava café changed myperspective of community engagement. Ifeel if I had a lack of confidence in myself this helped me gain it back. It canbe frightening to take on that much responsibility, but when you know youractions have a direct impact on others, it is empowering. Your confidence willgrow and others will look to you for guidance, which will definitely serve youwell in college and your future employment. It helped me build upon skills Ialready had and use them to benefit the greater community. Also it equipped mewith skills that many companies look for in staff, it helped me improve arange of soft skills.
I was faced with challengers on a daily basis, I had todeal with a mix of personalities and all while adjusting to life outside of mycomfort zone. This all added up and helped me improve teamwork, leadership,problem-solving and people skills. I also had an insightful, real-worldexperience while witnessing the effects my efforts have on others in ourcommunity. While doing community service at the café I made a lot ofconnections with the people I was helping and I cultivated friendships.
I wasthrown into an environment with a mixture of people. Also by being a valuedvolunteer for the organization the Salvation Army promised to give many glowingreferences and to share it with my prospective employers. Since the times aretough in the job market, this could give me an edge I need to get my resume tothe top of my pile.