A Journey into Shades of Grey – A story of advocacy
Graduating Ballarat Advocates Tell their story
For a group of strangers brought together through the generosity of their employers and the desire to gain some experience, a close bond of friendship bought through common experience and insight was formed.
The purpose of the Ballarat Advocacy Program, is to help spread the word, to talk about some of the needs of real people in our community, to increase United Way Ballarat’s ability to fundraise so we can do more. The program includes study of three UB Business School courses, a Seeing Is Believing Tour, visits to feed the homeless, a walk and talk with disabled Ballarat residents and importantly a Helping Hand project completed in the advocates’ own time. This year 8 organisations loaned us their precious staff to undergo 6 months of wearing two hats – completing all their expected tasks, as well as giving United Way a great deal of their time.
This year’s Advocates held the audience at the Spirit of Ballarat Awards spell bound as they recounted the stories of their journey with inspiring visual and word pictures.
We heard from three of the graduates who not only shared their own experience but also shared those of two who weren’t able to attend on the night.
As a relatively young member of the team, Jasmine Jolly from the Commonwealth Bank shared that the program has made her realise how well her parents have protected her from the not so savory parts of the world. Jasmine told us how she has grown as a person and now has a clearer understanding of what other people face on a daily basis. ‘ I know how lucky I am, and know that I can make a positive difference in the lives of those not as fortunate as me.’
Sharon Ashmore first signed up with no knowledge of United Way;
“In our journey the things we encountered surprised us, others straight out shocked us but it meant we adjusted our attitudes along the way and learned to be less judgmental and more understanding of others.
We have ridden a roller coaster of emotions at times feeling anger, frustration and completely overwhelmed. We have laughed, hugged each other, cried tears of both joy and tears of sadness.
I feel very lucky to be part of BAP. Our Team started out as a group of like-minded strangers who came together to help others and along the way we have become great friends who have perhaps become in ourselves a “Community”
Emily Sweet from the Courier gave us a compelling word picture of what the group encountered when they embarked on their ‘Helping Hand Project’ – a local family struggling, where circumstances have lead to their living in impoverished surroundings.
“I put my hand up for the program because it was a chance to get involved. But I never thought it would be as life changing as what it was. I had a really black and white view on life – you take responsibility for yourself and create your own opportunities. But this program taught me that there are many shades of grey. It taught me you don’t have to go to third world countries to find people living in poverty – this exists right here in Ballarat.
It taught me to truly appreciate what I’ve been given – an education, an encouraging and supportive family and the ability to create my own destiny. These are the things most people consider a basic right. But not everyone has that – and some, through no fault of their own.”
To find out more about becoming an Advocate next year click here
To attend a Seeing is Believing tour (the next one is to be held October 9th 2013) click here.