People community members/visitors while identifying community member needs

        People choose to volunteer for a
variety of reasons. Volunteers are the most important resource community
organizations have. For myself volunteering at the Hamodava cafe which is a
homeless shelter in Bourke Street offered the chance to give something back to
the community and to make a difference to the people around me. In short it
gave me the opportunity to try something new, gain experience, develop skills,
improve my career prospects, build confidence and meet new people.  It also provided a natural sense of
accomplishment by working for the betterment of others.

     At the Hamodava cafe I was required to
engage with and welcome all community members/visitors while identifying
community member needs and refer to staff for action. Myself and my team made
sure each meal is presented well, deliver meals to customers and cleaning up
back of house. I came to Australia a couple of months ago and I used to wonder
how a country like this can still have homelessness, but now I know that
anybody can become homeless any time. Clients here have had some sort of health
crisis and come here for stabilization. Many of them have mental-health
problems or addictions.

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One of the
experiences I encountered volunteering at the cafe was when I was faced with a
mentally ill, aggressive customer. When dealing with customers I always had in
mind that a difficult customer remains your customer irrespective of his or her
actions. When the lunch time was over he approached me and told me to take his
order. Our manager had informed us to not take any orders since the food was
taken back to the kitchen. After I apologized and responded that we weren’t
supposed to take orders he got a bit impatient and told me to bring him food.  I felt that he was desiring extraordinary
attention. So I made him sit and offered him a coffee and started to have a
small conversation with him since others were all busy cleaning up the
premises. I tried remaining friendly at all times, didn’t attempt to argue with
him. His temper gradually went down and heunderstood the situation. I was never
intimidated by his actions because I knew I represented the café.

The Hamodava
Café run by the Salvation Army is a community center providing breakfast, lunch
and fair-trade coffee, as well as support to people from all walks of life,
especially those living on the margins of society (Whatson.melbourne.vic.gov.au,
2018). Hamodava Cafe’s primary purpose is about building relationships
with people and developing a strong sense of belonging and acceptance for all
and to assist them out of their current state of homelessness (Pro Bono
Australia, 2018). A wide demographic walk through the café doors, from
youths to the elderly, but all with a common need for inclusion. The café creates an employment pathway for many of its needy
customers, with the opportunity to be trained in hospitality and serve
food and drinks to patrons. (BeanScene Magazine, 2018)

Behind the
brick wall, however, is the work of The Salvation Army, an internationally
recognized social welfare service, devoted to enriching the lives of those
suffering from social poverty. The laneway that once housed homeless
people and served food to the needy has turned into a vibrant café that is
providing employment opportunities. The Hamodava Café. In a move to
encourage social equality, the café opens weekdays and invites customers from
all walks of life to indulge in breakfast, morning tea and lunch menus – at no
cost, or gold coin donation. For many, this is their only chance to be served
in such an environment. The professional dining space with restaurant-size
tables and chairs, china, cutlery and flower arrangements is another strength
that keeps the organization running. The interior invites a homey feel with old
relics such as brass band instruments and historic copies of Salvation Army
posters from the 1800s.

However there
are some weaknesses that are yet to overcome to improve the restaurant in the
long run. The wait staff sometimes creates a weakness in the Hamodava café
since they aren’t provided with adequate training such as showing how they
should attend to tables or explaining to culinary personnel how you want food
prepared and presented. One of the major reasons for this issue would be that
the management would not want to force them to get things done since they are
doing voluntary work and to not make them feel uncomfortable or offended.
Another weakness is that the Hamodava café runs out of supplies occasionally in
the menu for example milk, yogurt etc. and it would create a bottleneck in the
busy day to day running of the café.

Hamodava
café which is run by the Salvation Army has found many opportunities by
expanding and providing different types of services such as AMP 614 Youth Bus, The Vault Youth Space, Youth
Street, Salvos Metro Transit, Bella’s Friendship Club, The Marketplace, Whole
in The Wall Café, Hamodava Coffee Van, The International Couch, Mobile Outreach
etc. Some of the opportunities are that the Hamodava café is fast growing, a lot of people love drinking
coffee, spending time with friends at cafes or even alone time there. Its ways
are already grasped by many, its saturation is also a good thing. The target
location is accessible to the target market. Moreover a high-end café to be
patronized, a lot of people who love coffee are looking for new places,
desiring a new taste, and the smell of new aroma as well as having a rotating
menu  that offers a variety of options
for the homeless.

When taking the threats into consideration the competition available that
offers similar food types and service expectations in your area, Price
uncertainties affect everyone within the food industry from the supplier and
producer right through to the restaurant owners. Some of the food is provided
by Second Bite, an organization that sources nutritious fresh food and produce
from food wholesales, farmers and food businesses that might otherwise go to
waste.

 Public fundraising, which includes
the Red Shield Appeal, raises vital funds to support The Salvation Army’s
programs across Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the
Northern Territory. The Salvation Army invests 21% of funds raised into
activities that ensure their financial sustainability. 79% assists the
community through their various social programs. (My.salvationarmy.org.au,
2018). Other forms the Salvation Army uses to raise funds are by the Donations
they receive by the support of caring people, getting regular monthly donations,
various fundraisers, by sponsoring a child, sharing gifts and other goods among
the community for Christmas, the salvos stores where unwanted goods are been
donated and the profits raised from Salvos Stores are directed back to vital
services, transforming lives in our community. In the 2015/16 financial year,
Salvos Stores raised $21.5 million to fund support services around Australia.

The volunteering experience I had at the Hamodava café changed my
perspective of community engagement.  I
feel if I had a lack of confidence in myself this helped me gain it back. It can
be frightening to take on that much responsibility, but when you know your
actions have a direct impact on others, it is empowering. Your confidence will
grow and others will look to you for guidance, which will definitely serve you
well in college and your future employment. It helped me build upon skills I
already had and use them to benefit the greater community. Also it equipped me
with skills that many companies look for in staff, it helped me improve a
range of soft skills. I was faced with challengers on a daily basis, I had to
deal with a mix of personalities and all while adjusting to life outside of my
comfort zone. This all added up and helped me improve teamwork, leadership,
problem-solving and people skills. I also had an insightful, real-world
experience while witnessing the effects my efforts have on others in our
community. While doing community service at the café I made a lot of
connections with the people I was helping and I cultivated friendships. I was
thrown into an environment with a mixture of people. Also by being a valued
volunteer for the organization the Salvation Army promised to give many glowing
references and to share it with my prospective employers. Since the times are
tough in the job market, this could give me an edge I need to get my resume to
the top of my pile.

 

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