Everyday Salvo Debra making a difference at Mornington
For many who have received help, offering help to others just makes sense. Debra Kirkpatrick is one of them. Salvos Online writer KIRRALEE NICOLLE caught up with Debra to find out what drives her to volunteer two days a week for the Mornington Corps in Victoria as an assistant to the corps officer, Aux-Lieut Debra Taylor.
Kirralee: What led you to become a Salvos volunteer, and how long have you been doing what you’re doing in Mornington?
Debra: I just wanted to pay back. I’ve called upon The Salvation Army to assist me in troubled times in my life. To know it’s there and [that] I’ve got somewhere and somebody to turn to is huge for me and I know it’s huge for a lot of other people too. If you don’t [want to] talk about your troubles, that’s OK. They just accept you for who you are and the way you are, and that’s what I like. I also come from a Christian family – my aunty and my cousin are involved with The Salvation Army, and I’ve been volunteering for organisations for quite a number of years now.
Kirralee: What led you to seek out the Salvos?
Debra: I’ve worked full-time as a single parent for a long time and [one day] I witnessed a train colliding with a car outside my office and, unfortunately, I [saw] everything that was going on in the car. It led to PTSD, depression and anxiety and a breakdown. I was off work for about 18 months, and I was paying off my house on my own and trying to bring children up on my own. I was really struggling so [I accessed] the food bank services [and] their financial services. In the end, I had to sell my house because I just could not afford to keep paying the repayments and the finance services helped me immensely to the point where I was able to sell my house and start over again. When you’re bringing up children on your own, you find that even [if] you do have support from family and friends, you don’t [want to] burden them. The Salvation Army was able to provide that support [to me instead].
Kirralee: That’s quite a harrowing story. Thank you for being willing to share that. Looking at your role now and what you do, what does an average day look like for you?
Debra: My day’s different all the time, and it’s far from boring! And Deb [Taylor’s] the type of person [where] if you’re feeling down, she’ll lift your spirits. But I’ve been doing a lot of work with regard to entering volunteer information into the system. TSA is actually going through a huge process in getting all of the volunteers into the system. At first, I was a little bit nervous because I wasn’t familiar with TSA’s computer system, but there’s always been help and guidance. So, I just [want to] get out to people that even though you might feel nervous, there is help and support there and I’m a witness to it! [Additionally], sometimes I’ll help Deb set up for the different programs that she runs, doing decorating. That’s where my heart is. That’s the part I play, as well as entering information into the system and [serving as] a PA/admin person for Deb and for other people in here too.
Kirralee: For anyone who’s considering taking up a volunteer role in The Salvation Army, what is it that you would say to them as they’re thinking through what they would do and whether they’re going to make that commitment?
Debra: When you volunteer it’s different [to the workforce]. It’s a different feeling. You know your role is important as a volunteer, and the TSA always make it very clear how important your role is, but it’s like the pressure’s taken off in comparison to you being [an] employee. It does make you feel warm [and] fuzzy, and you can meet some really nice people along the way. I’d say just give it a go!