Volunteer profile: Sue

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How did you get involved in volunteering with Children First Foundation?

I had just returned from Timor Leste where I was volunteering with the Salesian Missions, looking after children and young women in the mission schools and orphanages. I met Margarita, a young lady with a severe spinal deformity, and I approached a local Melbourne spinal surgeon about trying to help her. Through him, I got introduced to Children First Foundation. After campaigning for her for two years, she came to Australia, and successfully had the surgery she needed. While she was in Australia, she was cared for by Children First Foundation staff and volunteers, and I got into the habit of volunteering at The Retreat every two weeks for the next 12 months. The rest is history!

Sue with Margarita and Tina

Why did you choose to volunteer for the Foundation over other organisations – what stood out about us for you?

As a Medical Doctor, and advocate for those less fortunate, it just made sense.  I travel to Timor Leste regularly to work and meet children and doctors there. It was a natural progression to harness my experience, passion and networks to help Children First Foundation. I have lots of different roles at times, as a volunteer, Doctor, fundraiser and Board member.

Tell us a little bit about your role as a Board member…

As a Board member, I am involved in steering the governance and finances of the organisation. I like developing policy and having an overall view at all levels of what is happening in the organisation. I like the collaboration at all levels, from the Board, who are all dedicated and passionate volunteers, to the staff both at North Melbourne and Kilmore, to the volunteers and our children and carers. I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with them all.

What is the most memorable experience with the Foundation so far?

The most meaningful and purposeful moment in my life was taking Margarita home to her family in Timor Leste, after her life-changing spinal surgery and ten months in Australia. At 13 years of age, this young lady had the courage to look me in the eye and say “yes, I would like you to try to help me”. I figured, that, if she had that courage, I had no choice but to advocate for her. It has changed her life, but it has also changed mine. She has taught me that anything is possible, you just have to say “yes” instead of “no”. This is the story of all our children, and it is this passion for advocacy for change that keeps me working and volunteering.

Sue with Margarita at home in Timor Leste

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

Outside of Children First Foundation, I am a local Bayside GP. I work 4-days a week, and during this time of Covid1-19, I have rekindled my love for my job. Having the opportunity to help others is a privilege. I am also founding member of International Women’s Forum Australia. Last year, two colleagues and I wrote and rolled out a mentoring program for young female leaders. It will go interstate next year. What I have gained from this is to always stay true to my ethics and values and have an open mindset to wonder what might be possible. The things I love to do are to exercise every day, cook and entertain whenever I can, and spend time with my friends, my husband, John and our amazing boys and their partners. In the last two years, John and I have taken up Latin dancing. Early days yet, but can’t wait for our next Children First Foundation Gala Ball!

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