Case 3: Cheryl Marie Song, design and print
Cheryl Marie Song, 37, runs her own web and print design business in Melbourne. She also volunteers her time and expertise on a regular basis, and has been doing so most of her life.
Volunteer work began years ago for Cheryl when, inspired by her older sister’s work with the local Rotary Club, she started providing designs for them free of charge. She studied design in Malaysia as well as completing a degree at RMIT. After her studies she went back to Malaysia and began searching for job opportunities in Australia. She checked out the volunteer listings and found a role with Music Centre North Queensland. She wound up working with them remotely for five years. She worked two roles in Malaysia but eventually left them, turning to freelancing to keep herself going. Cheryl found enough work that she was able to start her business, Wagtail Designs, in 2005. She moved to Melbourne a year ago and restarted her business there.
Now, she volunteers her spare time designing for various not-for-profits. A member of Melbourne Rowing Club, Cheryl met Tim, who last January rowed with seven crew members across the Atlantic to raise money for multiple sclerosis. This July he plans to become the first person to row across the Indian Ocean, from Australia to South Africa. When Cheryl heard about what he is doing, she offered to redesign his website, as the standard templates he was using were not doing his cause justice. The effort he has to put into the fund-raising and training is immense, and Cheryl wanted to ‘lessen his burden’. During the voyage Cheryl also maintained his blog and photo uploads.
Another project Cheryl volunteers for is Pete’s Chastity for Charity campaign. Pete has given up sex for one year to raise funds for child sex slaves in Cambodia. All funds go to providing these girls with an education so they can end the vicious loop of poverty and sex slavery.
As if she isn’t doing enough, Cheryl also designs marriage certificates and documents for her local church, and has donated time as a kitchen hand to the Sacred Heart Dining Hall. Phew!
So what drives Cheryl to log so many voluntary hours? Well, she says that as a youngster she was impressed by the people in her church choir group. She says they were generous with their time and assistance, and never expected anything in return. She learned the concept of paying it forward, something she believes in still. She also says being involved in worthwhile projects feels good and that it’s fantastic to meet genuine, like-minded people.
‘Some people do it to say they are doing it (for work experience or similar) but there is no real commitment,’ she says. ‘If there is no glory, they don’t do it.’
She says it’s important to note that if you can’t volunteer your skills there are always other ways to help.
‘If you can’t give your skills then you can always give your time.’