Vijay's story: An unexpected volunteering journey
After losing his job of 28 years, Vijay was at a crossroad. Spending a large portion of his career as an electrical engineer, Vijay says he struggled to keep up with the rapid changing pace of his industry.
“I’d been in a very high profile job as general manager. I had 100 employees but the technology was changing and I was out of a job. This is the nature of the industry.”
Unsure of his next step, Vijay’s life suddenly took an unexpected turn. Lucy, coordinator of Wesley Connect, a food and care program which assists those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, asked Vijay to volunteer.
Already familiar with the work of Wesley Mission, having been a member of Wesley International Congregation for many years, Vijay jumped at the opportunity. Since August 2016 Vijay has been befriending those who walk through Wesley Connect’s doors, offering spiritual support through prayer and providing them with necessary food supplies.
“What Wesley Connect is about is we care. It’s not just the food or drink we provide. I think people come there because they feel comfortable with us. It’s a home away from home. Yes, their home may be the street, but it is a place where they can feel comfortable. They can feel that there’s a family. They can share their small joys with us.”
Passionate about Wesley Mission’s Word and deed ministry, offering both practical and pastoral care support to those most in need, Vijay sought out further volunteering opportunities. He found himself co-hosting the Wesley Homeless Food Challenge, where corporate and schools groups are challenged to buy three days’ worth of food with just $10 dollars each. All food and care products purchased through the program are donated to Wesley Connect.
Over the last 12 months Vijay offered his expertise to Wesley Mission’s property and marketing teams. He also acquired clothing donations that will be sold at Wesley Fair—an annual fete that this coming year will raise funds for Wesley Connect.
For Vijay, his volunteering experience with Wesley Disability Services has significantly impacted his life. Vijay says his eyes were opened to the challenges faced by people with disabilities, after taking them on recreational field trips. While Vijay has sacrificially given so much of his time, he says volunteering at Wesley Mission has altered his perspective on life.
“While on this journey I’m taking, I think it is part of God’s plan. Yes, times are hard. I’ve gone from having a large salary, a company car and having a corner office, and then out to nothing.
“I think I may be going through a storm in one way, but I think God wants me to work in this space so I can help people.”
Wesley Mission is privileged to have volunteers, just like Vijay, who choose Wesley Mission, as their avenue to help those most in need.