Today's Volunteer: Natalie Smith, Whittlesea Unit
It’s National Volunteer Week. To celebrate, we are spotlighting a different member of our service here each day.
Natalie Smith volunteers so she can help people in their hour of need.
“I like to be there for them. I know what it’s like to be scared and alone. I can help,” she says.
Badly bullied in school, Natalie had few friends and didn’t enjoy being there. She spent her time in the library, and when she found other kids in there struggling, she helped them.
“I kind of couldn’t help myself really. I ended up teaching kids who were studying, kids at the pool, and I would go and help out on camps and holidays.”
Natalie and her family moved from England to Australia in 2006, where her volunteering continued.
“I wanted to go for the Duke of Edinburgh Award and it calls for 12 months of volunteer service. I thought, if I’m going to put in 12 months, it should be something that I want to keep going with.”
Initially unsure of whether to volunteer with the SES or CFA, Natalie chose the orange overalls because “I don’t like hot things”.
Natalie, who is also studying to be a nurse, joined the Whittlesea unit a little less than two years ago. Whittlesea is a new unit, having only been open a year after nine months under the supervision of the Broadmeadows team.
“I remember my first call-out, riding in the truck with three or four guys,” Natalie says.
A tree in a house’s front garden had fallen and crushed a fence. Its roots were sticking into the air.
“There was a mum and daughter inside. The mum was about 80 and the daughter 50, and they were both in a panic about ‘what if it’s damaged the pipes? What if it’s damaged the electricity?’.
“Just us being there, they were pleased we were there to fix it. And they gave us a box of chocolates at the end to say thanks.”
Can you see yourself in orange? Visit our volunteer page for more information.