Student volunteers bring the passion, opportunity, and change

National Student Volunteer Week runs from 8-14 August 2022

This year’s theme for National Student Volunteer Week is “Passion. Opportunity. Change.” and these are some of the driving forces for Marissa Papaspiros, a Society member.

“I joined Vinnies because I just saw a lot of need and I wanted to something about it in any capacity.

“I had done a lot of volunteering in high school and I just was looking for something like that that I could do outside of school and Vinnies provided that opportunity to fuel that passion,” she says.

“I have developed such good problem-solving skills and flexibility and communication and the ability just to be able to talk with so many different people and appreciate different perspectives.

“And I’m really, really grateful for that opportunity because it just transcends and translates into all different aspects of my life,” Marissa says.

Marissa says she really values the way members do things, “That value of constantly learning and reflecting and working with people and supporting people and collaborating to enact change.

“And I think that’s the really important part with Vinnies.

“When I started, sometimes I would come home in tears from Brekky Vans and Night Patrols and my Dad said to me, you’ve got to stop.

“He said to me, ‘What you’re doing is important in that moment. You’ve had a chat with that person. You’ve provided them something to eat, something to drink and that’s all you could do in that moment,’” she says.

Marissa says she views the work she does through the lens provided by St Mary MacKillop when she said: “Do all you can with the means at your disposal, and calmly leave the rest to God.”

Marissa has many stories to tell about these small moments of connection with the people she’s assisted, one involving impromptu karaoke.

“She used to talk about how she loved Bon Jovi, so I would get it up on my phone and we’d have a singing contest.

“I would sing, absolutely horribly and horrendously – I would just belt it out – and she was so happy and we used to do that every time I went out.

“I think that used to help – I hope that helped – because she loved singing Livin’ on a Prayer.

“It was the most beautiful thing, we used to have great laugh,” she says.

When asked what it is she most values about volunteering with the Society, Marissa says, without hesitation, that it’s the people – and by association what they’ve taught her.

“I remember going on a Night Patrol and there was this beautiful lady that I did it with.

“She was just so gorgeous and she said to the person that we were serving, ‘How do you like your coffee?’

“And I thought that’s a really nice way of asking that.

“It’s more respectful, it’s more reminiscent of a café, it’s just nicer.”

“Also, the people that we serve because you just learn so much about people and you connect.

“I just feel at peace when I’m volunteering,” she says.