Volunteers' Week - Thank You Cathy Nicou

Volunteering at the McAuley Care children’s room each week, Cathy Nicou marvels at the challenges facing mothers who have had to flee family violence. Parenting under such circumstances is something she luckily never had to endure as a young mother.

“Each week I can see these mothers trying to do their best and I see how much more difficult it is for them when they have so much to deal with,” Cathy said.

Cathy began volunteering with McAuley Community Services for Women 16 months ago after she and her husband sold their bakery business. She had begun studying social work at RMIT but wanted to do some community work.

She researched the organisation and was attracted by the services, including the safe house for women and children.

As she says: “With so many women and children affected by family violence, and the limited funding provided, a volunteer army is important to delivering services.” So Cathy went off and joined the army.

“Working with children provides many wonderful moments. Recently, I was making paper planes with some beautiful children and I was amazed at how children, who have been through some very traumatic experiences, could be so happy and excited over something so simple.”

Having volunteers at McAuley Care means that the children can play with someone there to support them. In the play room the children have a safe place to play, relax and be themselves. If the volunteers need support, the staff are nearby.

“The children really like painting, drawing, having stories read to them and just enjoying the toys and games. Sometimes they might express how they are feeling through the activities and most times they are so happy to just be in a fun environment. The mums also appreciate this as it gives them a chance to catch their breath and attend to phone calls and paper work that they may need to do,” Cathy said.

“Volunteers are necessary to keep the play room open. And it isn’t at all difficult. We volunteers get to spend s a few hours playing with children and helping them have some enjoyment. It’s a great way to use your time.”