Graham and Polly Sudholz don’t just open their hearts as volunteers, but also their home.
The pair has enjoyed inviting young people with disability, or who act as young carers, for a day out on their beautiful rural property in Taminick, near Wangaratta, for more than three years.
December 5 is International Volunteer Day, celebrating the important role volunteers play in supporting our communities.
Graham said spending time with a group of young people who are living on the Autism spectrum was the highlight of his month. The teens, mainly boys, are part of non-profit organisation Villa Maria Catholic Homes’ (VMCH) Youth Adventures program; aimed at equipping youth with social and independent living skills.
Outings to the movies, ten pin bowling and cooking lessons are popular activities, but its visits to the Sudholz’s farm that everyone enjoys most.
“We go for a walk around the hills, cook a barbeque, pick oranges from the orange grove, and have a go at shearing the sheep. It’s fantastic we have the opportunity to host the kids and I just love seeing them so happy,” Graham said.
Polly, a trained medical laboratory scientist, enjoyed her volunteer role so much she is now a paid Disability Support Worker with VMCH.
“I just love it. It’s so rewarding and fulfilling.” While no longer an official volunteer, Polly still enjoys catching up with Youth Adventures members when they come to the farm.
“People see the label of ‘disability’ and think about what kids can’t do, not what they can. When we get kids out to the farm we give them things they can do and focus on the positives. It’s so wonderful to witness how they react when they master something.”
VMCH Youth Adventures coordinator Trish Edgar describes Graham and Polly as “very special people”.
“They have both natural life experience and a great sense of both understanding and respect, treating those in our group as they treat all people they know,” Trish said.
“The boys love their company, mainly because they bring some humour and lots of fun to the program. They are happy to share this gold mine (farm) with our group, and never give a second thought when it comes to being kind. They are just that kind of family.”
If you would like to volunteer with VMCH, click here.
For more information about Youth Adventures, call 1800 052 222.