VOLUNTEERING at Vinnies Toodyay for almost two decades has been a “life saver” for Jackie Irvine after losing two of her children within six weeks.
The volunteer store manager, whose adult children died about 14 years ago, said dedicating her time to the charity had kept her sane in such a traumatic time.
After losing her daughter Tina, who suffered from severe migraines, to an accidental oxycodone overdose and her son Lee in a skydiving accident, Mrs Irvine couldn’t get out of bed.
But it was the support of Vinnies, its volunteers and customers that pulled the now 71-year-old out of her depression and gave her purpose to live.
Mrs Irvine said after losing her children her world completely fell apart and she felt as if she didn’t have a reason to live.
“I just wanted to lay in bed all day but coming to the shop was a totally different part of my life, I felt like I was in a different world here and safe,” she said.
“The volunteers became like a little family to me and made me feel like I had a sense of belonging.
“Volunteering at the shop kept my sanity along with the counselling and support Vinnies gave me.”
Mrs Irvine started the original Vinnies shop in Toodyay with her husband Michael about 18 years ago after moving to Australia from Cornwall in the UK.
Now the store is on Stirling Terrace and Mrs Irvine has been recognised for her dedication to the charity by being one of 10 finalists for the WA Volunteer of the Year People’s Choice award, which is supported by Community News.
Not one to be in the spotlight, Mrs Irvine wanted to use her nomination and story as a way to encourage others to volunteer and help people less fortunate than the,
“I really enjoy volunteering because it gives me a sense of purpose and belonging,” she said.
“Through volunteering I have an opportunity to see the generous donations given by our community to raise revenue in our shop to help those in need, and you can too.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or who has items to donate has been encouraged to visit the Toodyay shop, open 9.30am-4pm Tuesday to Saturday.
To vote for the WA Volunteer of the Year People’s Choice award, visit https://www.judgify.me/public-voting/peopleschoice before April 27.