Dialog Box

CatholicCare Victoria

Emergency Relief: Volunteering to Make a Difference

This week I was privileged to hear from Mario Pavlou, our Chief Development Officer, about his experiences volunteering with our Emergency Relief team.

For the last eight months, during his personal time, Mario has been calling people who’ve registered their details with our Emergency Relief program, listening to their stories, and helping them access the support they need.

As a volunteer, I have the unique privilege of connecting with individuals who are in desperate need of financial assistance. It is during their most vulnerable moments that I have the honour of providing them with some support they require," says Mario.

"The feeling of making a difference in someone's life, even in a small way, is truly indescribable. Witnessing the relief and gratitude from the people affected is an incredibly humbling experience.

Woman dialing a number on her phone

I asked Mario why he chooses to volunteer with CatholicCare Victoria, and he told me that when he first joined the organisation, he did so to make a difference – both in his profession and also with his time.

So, to start, he began by making a small regular donation from his salary to support the organisation. Then he realised that what he really wanted to do was contribute “where the people are”, to have a hand at the coalface. So he began volunteering with our Emergency Relief program.

One of the aspects that makes CatholicCare Victoria truly exceptional is the dedication and support provided by the Emergency Relief services staff. They work tirelessly to ensure that the needs of both volunteers and clients are met promptly and efficiently," says Mario.

"Their unwavering commitment and readiness to assist have been instrumental in enhancing the impact of our collective efforts. I am incredibly grateful to be part of such a compassionate and responsive team.”

Photo: Mario Pavlou, Chief Development Officer, CatholicCare Victoria.

I asked Mario to share a little of the stories behind the phone calls, and he immediately recalled two - the first was to a woman who had been forced to leave her home due to domestic violence.

She had quite literally walked out with only the clothes on her back.

Mario received the notification from the Emergency Relief team that this woman was quite desperate and immediately began trying to reach her. It was close to the end of the day by the time he was able to get through.

Over a patchy line because of her broken phone, he was able to compassionately listen to her story and organise $300 in Coles vouchers so that she could immediately buy some food and groceries. The woman was overwhelmed and burst into tears.

There was a second problem though, it was now 5pm but this woman needed to access those vouchers immediately. Mario says that he emailed Pam Longe, CCV Emergency Relief Administrator, and was so impressed by her three-word reply: “I’m onto it.”

As a team, they were able to provide a vulnerable person with assistance in a time of urgent need.

Recently, Mario also spoke to another person, a mother with two sick children. Between the rent, utilities, medical bills, and groceries - like many people in our community - she was desperately struggling to make ends meet.

The situation had gotten so dire that her utilities company were threatening to cut off her services until she could pay her overdue bills. She was left having to choose between having power or having food.

As an exceptional response, we were able to offer to take on the full $900-$1,000 in utilities bills, in order to give her some breathing room and allow her to focus on providing food for her children. To that end, we also gave her another $300 in Coles vouchers.

She, also, burst into tears.

She said, “This is like a blessing from God. I didn’t expect anything today, so it’s just amazing to receive a call from someone who understands and wants to help.”

This is like a blessing from God. I didn’t expect anything today, so it’s just amazing to receive a call from someone who understands and wants to help.”

Emergency Relief recipient

Mario says, “My experience as a volunteer at CatholicCare Victoria has been life-changing. The opportunity to provide financial assistance and support to individuals in their most challenging times has reinforced my belief in the power of compassion and community."

"I am immensely grateful to be a volunteer with our Emergency Relief services and I wholeheartedly encourage others to join me on this journey of making a positive impact in the lives of those in need.” 

If you'd like to volunteer in our Emergency Relief program, please contact our Volunteer Administrator, Jaclyn Fraser at volunteer@catholiccarevic.org.au

Learn more about our Emergency Relief service here

Brent Grimes | Communications Officer – Internal Communications Lead 

18 May 2023
Category: News