Volunteers Heart At Work

Christine Pow arrived in Australia from Malaysia 35 years ago with a dream of creating a new life. Her desire to give back to her new community led her to volunteer, which she has now done for over 20 years.

“When I migrated to Australia at age 28, five months pregnant with just two bags and abundant hope, my dream was to build a suburban life in Rowville,” Christine says.

“Today, I am grateful to this country for fulfilling those dreams. When you do good, good things come back to you.”

Finding themselves without enough friends to celebrate Chinese New Year, Christine and her husband Kam opened their home for potluck celebrations where guests would connect by each bringing a plate of food.

“It grew and grew and grew until I couldn’t fit them in my house anymore so then I hired a hall,” Christine says.

“We thought, why do we only think of eating, perhaps we could consider giving? So, we started doing raffle tickets and fundraising. It started very small.”

These events have since raised more than $50,000 for various charities.

Christine also started the Joy Luck Club for friends, some widowed, to support each other over a weekly game of gin rummy. This has since grown and been opened up to the broader Knox community.

When COVID hit, Christine started a group to share food with her community.

“Then my Council invited me to contribute to some of their community projects,” she says.

“I was blown away when they implemented my suggestions. My voice, my input matter.”

Christine’s efforts were recognised in last year’s Volunteering Victoria Awards, something she hopes will inspire others.

Her story has been included in Undefeated, a collection of stories about local migrant and refugee women who overcame challenges and barriers of living in a foreign land.

Christine and Kam, the latter of whom became one of the first people of Asian descent to join his local Rotary club, say volunteering is their way of giving back to the community that has given them so much.

National Volunteer Week from 20-26 May highlights the important role of volunteers in our community and invites people not currently volunteering to give it a go.

Council has partnered with Knox’s volunteer resource centre, Volunteer for Knox (V4K), to host a Volunteering Expo at the Knox Civic Centre in April. V4K has been awarded grant funding by Council until 2026 to help prospective volunteers find opportunities and local community groups to recruit volunteers.

The Volunteering Expo will be held at the Knox Civic Centre on Wednesday 24 April from 1pm-6pm. Visit: volunteerforknox.com.au

See Council volunteer opportunities at knox.vic.gov.au/volunteer

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