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Volunteer spotlight: Mary-Jane Espartinez from the Volunteer Engagement Team

Mary-Jane Espartinez has been volunteering with the Volunteer Engagement Team in Melbourne for more than a year. Here she tells us about how she first heard about Oxfam and what she’s gained from volunteering.

In my VCE Global Politics class, I selected Oxfam for an assessment/essay that aimed to analyse the effectiveness of a non-governmental organisation.

At the time, I was already aware of Oxfam as an organisation that wanted to create change and end poverty so was interested to find out more. The assessment allowed me to explore the areas of Oxfam’s work and realise how much life changing work they do. After receiving positive feedback and achieving a high score for my essay, my career goal became to work for Oxfam and be able to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

As a human rights student, I realised volunteering would be the perfect way to keep me motivated, learn more about the organisation and gain valuable experience.

Personally, it is difficult for me to choose one area of Oxfam’s work that is the most important to me because I feel that every issue Oxfam works on are all equally important to achieving a just world free from poverty. The vision of a just world free from poverty has always been important to me.

Coming from a Filipino family, my grandmother constantly reminded us of those living in poverty in the Philippines and made us understand how grateful we should be for the things we had. This influence helped me understand that no one should have to live in poverty and ever since my values have been aligned with Oxfam.

As an Administration Assistant in the Volunteer Engagement Team, my main tasks include organising the volunteer database and our records of volunteer information. This includes ensuring volunteers have been logging their hours, are assigned to a role, and sending them introductory information and exit surveys when they start and finish their role. My role also involves ensuring volunteers receive Work, Health and Safety training modules and completing these modules to protect volunteers whether they are in an office or shop environment.

On a more casual basis, I have been able to assist with research tasks, analysing surveys, creating user guides for volunteer database and analysing and presenting data for the internal marketing campaign during National Volunteer Week.

Volunteering at Oxfam has been an amazing experience for me. Allocating one day a week to volunteering gives me a break from university and work where I am doing something for myself and helping others. I have been able to learn more about Oxfam’s work through information briefing sessions and induction days.

Volunteering gives me an insight to what it would be like to potentially work for Oxfam in the future, which motivates me with my studies. As an Administration Assistant, I have gained valuable experience in the Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The Volunteer Engagement Team has been super welcoming and very supportive of my role which makes my time in the office fun and allows me to listen in on team meetings and strategies for the future.

If you have spare time, don’t hesitate to apply for a role or register your interest. There is such a positive energy that comes with volunteering at Oxfam, where you are giving your time and energy to help others. In general, it’s extremely rewarding to be able to give back to the community whether it be your local community or the global community.

Aside from volunteering, I am a full-time student currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (Majors in Human Rights and International Relations) and a Bachelor of Business (Management) at Monash University. I also work two part-time jobs, both as a retail assistant at a shoe store and a warehouse specialising in baby and bedding products. When I’m not working, volunteering or studying, I like to spend time with my family and friends.

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