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As part of their partnership with the Property Industry Foundation, volunteers from AVID Property Group joined a productive workerbee at the Salvation Army’s Upton Road Youth Refuge in St Kilda on 7 September, cleaning up garden beds which are used to grow produce for their onsite meals program and community market.

Seven AVID staff members were able to use their allocated Active in the Community Day staff benefit day, introduced by AVID to allow staff to take a full day off their normal duties to work with wider communities and charities, giving AVID Victorian staff the opportunity to prepare the Upton Road gardens for spring planting. “As a national partner with the Property Industry Foundation we participate in many fundraising exercises and events which give our staff an active way of being involved in the Foundation’s fundraising efforts,” says Jason Brettell, AVID General Manager – Victoria. “The workerbee is an extension of that and it gives staff a hands-on way of seeing how the Foundation’s beneficiaries operate and hearing their stories and the stories of the people they help.”

 “Being able to personally be a part of something and directly contribute is rewarding and it highlighted the work that people working with homeless youth achieve, brought about by their dedication, it’s such a positive experience.”

AVID volunteer

Jason Brettell said staff across AVID’s Victorian Marketing, Sales, Business Operations, Legal, Development and Community divisions pitched in with a variety of tasks on the day. “They worked in the gardens and surrounding areas weeding, pruning, removing a large garden bed and refreshing a revitalising a garden area for future planting in spring. In our small way we helped contribute to maintaining the garden areas and supporting the work that the young people do with their monthly market.”

Every year, the Upton Road centre supports 400+ young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness through crisis accommodation, case management, outreach support and education. Part of their program is the healing space of their community garden, which encourages young people to get involved with growing their own food. “It was great spending time in the garden with the group from AVID,” says Upton Road Program Manager Claire Edmanson. “With it being the first week of spring there was a lot on the workerbee list, but it focused on weeding and prepping the space for spring planting. The group were so enthusiastic and tackled every task we put in front of them which meant we achieved so much in a short period of time.”

The Salvation Army view corporate working bees as having clear benefits to the young people their program supports. “Firstly, they provide an important opportunity to interact with people from a different sector and provide insight into the issues experienced by both young people experiencing homelessness but also by staff and program’s that operate within the sector. The second big benefit is to the physical space at Upton Rd youth refuge. Our program operates as a Psychologically Informed Environment and one of the key components of this is a physical space that promotes healing, growth and learning opportunities. With the Upton Rd garden managed by social work staff and young people, the usual garden program is focused on engaging young people in the space so corporate working bees are critical because they assist us to get done in one day what would usually take us months!”

What the volunteers say:

“I found the event very rewarding and a little humbling. It’s a big thing to be asked into the homes of those who are having some life struggles. If the work we did brightens someone’s day a little then it was a good day.”

AVID volunteer

“It opened my eyes to how much good work the Salvation Army does for a lot of people. I was blown away at how generous and enthusiastic they are to help everyone that reaches out for help.”

AVID volunteer

“I felt honoured to spend my time doing my little part in helping out. It was very rewarding and a complete eye-opener to reality. I left feeling humbled and grateful for the opportunity.”

AVID volunteer

“Even though many of the young people only live in this accommodation for a short time, there is an impact to be had by creating a homely, nurturing environment; internally and in the gardens. The work goes a long way to helping to create positive habits and providing exposure to the simplest of life skills that these young people have not had role modelled. To be able to contribute to the development of a garden that produces food and provides the simple joy of nature – its colour and smell – was extremely rewarding.”

AVID volunteer

Want to volunteer to help make a house a home for the Property Industry Foundation? CLICK HERE to enquire about workerbees in your state or arrange your own.