‘Every person is going through something’.
CEO Amanda Donohoe and Women’s House Manager Belinda Battey are honoured at Boroondara’s 2022 Australia Day awards.
The following words are republished with permission from a speech by Belinda Battey, who was recently honoured as the 2022 Boroondara Young Citizen of the Year for her tireless volunteering with Servants Community Housing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same ceremony, CEO Amanda Donohoe received a special commendation award for her leadership and dedication.
“For the past 12 months I’ve had the privilege of living as an on-site volunteer house manager with Servants. The house I manage supports a number of women from different backgrounds and with different challenging experiences, including acute mental illness and domestic violence.
By living with people with such different experiences, I have been face to face with the fact that every individual is going through different challenges in life. It goes back to the old saying: don’t judge a book by its cover. Every person has their own experiences, and every person is going through something. Everyone has a story.
Having the opportunity to live and be alongside people while they face significant challenges has been a privilege; to support those people, and be a positive, stable, encouraging presence in their lives. Especially during a time where everyone’s lives are that bit more complicated as we make our way through these COVID times.
As an occupational therapy student who wishes to work amongst people, supporting them in their daily lives, volunteering at Servants has given me prime opportunities for exposure to the world around me, and experience that I could not gain through uni alone.
My encouragement to myself, and to everyone in this room is to strive to continually be the person who doesn’t judge, who stops, listens, and genuinely cares for the people around them.
“One moment that will always stay with me is when a new resident moved in. On the day they moved in they told me that in their previous residence, they would stack furniture against the door at night to make sure no one could get in. But here, she felt safe. She had a lock on her door that she knew she could use, to lock her door overnight while she slept, but she did not feel the need to. Because now she had somewhere safe to live; somewhere that felt like home.
This award shows that the work Servants is doing in our community is valued and important. To me it is not just me standing here, but this recognises the work of all the staff and volunteers at Servants, and it is a privilege to have this recognition.