"It's good to utilise the skills that I have developed over 35 years as a school teacher. You get a great deal of satisfaction when you complete a unit and you know it's going to affect thousands and thousands of people."
Instead of spending his retirement relaxing in the sun or playing golf, former school teacher of 35 years Tony Stokes decided to do something much more admirable – he decided to volunteer. After reading the Fido section in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year, Tony applied for an appropriate volunteer position in the School of Volunteer Management. He said he was fulfilling a 20-year promise to himself that he'd give back something worthwhile to the community.
Tony, who has been with the School for five months, currently holds the position of special projects volunteer. "We've just finished writing several study units for the Good Beginnings program which helps train parents who need assistance with parenthood," said Tony. "We wrote 29 units which cover everything from breastfeeding to problem solving – all sorts of interesting things!"
Interestingly, when applying to the School of Volunteering, Tony wanted a completely different job with the School. "Actually the job I applied for is not the job I am doing now," said Tony. "This is because I renegotiated my position with the School. I originally applied to be an administrative assistant which would have been a lot less demanding than special projects volunteer. I think it was really "what can I do for you rather than what can you do for me."
Tony said his volunteer work isn't all a bed of roses and there are many stressful aspects to the job. He said that being a special project volunteer and writing comprehensive units can be demanding especially when meeting deadlines and doing extensive research.
Being a special projects volunteer isn't Tony's first volunteer experience. He was a member of Apex which is a service group whose members are between the ages of 20 and 40 and who help the local community. "I worked for Apex for five years," said Tony. "We worked on community projects such as building a play area for kids, beautifying a town for a festival and raising money to send a young child to hospital for treatment."
He said his work with the School of Volunteering has confirmed that volunteering is an important part of his life. When he moves from Sydney to the country in a few months, Tony said he would almost certainly continue volunteer work.
"With volunteering you get to meet interesting people and do interesting things and you feel that you're really helping your community."
Did Tony inspire you to volunteer? Find out how you can become a volunteer.