Five minutes with Julia Roache, General Manager, Geelong Mums

So it’s no secret that we’re a little bit obsessed with Geelong Mums. What’s not to love? The group gives and gives and gives. We sat down with General Manager Julia Roache to learn a little more about the not-for-profit, and what you can do to help if you’re conferencing in Geelong and The Bellarine.

Tell us a little bit about Geelong Mums

Geelong Mums mission is to re-home pre-loved nursery goods to support Victorian families in need while saving the earth’s precious resources. We collect, sort and redistribute essential nursery equipment, clothing, books and toys for babies and school-age children.

We receive requests from Maternal Child Health nurses and social workers on behalf of families in need. We then try to meet or exceed each request with quality new or pre-loved donations. We give to people who are facing a variety of challenges and hope they feel uplifted when they receive a donation from us. We view it as giving a gift that is packed with love to provide practical support and to show that someone cares.

Geelong Mums was established in April 2013 by a group of five local mums led by Kate Betts. For the first 12 months, we operated entirely as a volunteer group from a small shed and from our own homes. We helped more than 300 families.

With our impact growing, in August 2014 we appointed our first employee, General Manager Kate Kent, and moved into a large building in South Geelong, significantly expanding our operations. In 2017, with the tremendous support of the community we rented the neighbouring building.

Geelong Mums have always been dependent on volunteers and we remain so. Our volunteers work during whatever free time they have, often juggling paid work and their own family requirements.

From the many volunteers who help out premises, to the individuals and groups who knit for us, and the groups that participate in our workplace volunteering program – we rely on our volunteers to provide this valuable service.

It’s critically important we recognise Geelong Mums is founded on the generosity of volunteers and will continue to grow with their ideas, help and support.

What inspired you to get involved?

I have been supporting and volunteering at Geelong Mums since its very first donation drop-off five years ago and have have been continually inspired by the work of all the volunteers and supporters. The opportunity to take up the General Manager role came at a perfect time for me, both personally and professionally, and I am thrilled that I am able to combine my skills and experience with one of my passions.

How can corporate groups get involved?  

We love corporate groups at Geelong Mums! Spending hands-on time in our HQ allows your staff to really appreciate the need in the greater Geelong community for the service we provide to families. Geelong Mums warmly welcomes groups of corporate volunteers in our premises on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Session times are 9.15am – 11.30am and/or 12.30pm – 2.45pm. Some of the activities you may be involved in include cleaning and safety checking items such as prams, highchairs and car seats, sorting and packing clothing, linen and toys, or preparing special toiletry packs for mums and babies.

We kindly request a financial contribution of $300 (plus GST) for groups of up to 10 people and $450 (plus GST) for groups of 11-15 people, which ensures that you have a trained staff member guiding your team throughout the day and that you get the most out of your volunteering experience with us.  This contribution also assists us in continuing to provide support to thousands of Victorian families per year.  Please note that larger groups can be accommodated on Thursdays (price on application).

Can you share any success stories coming out of Geelong Mums?

Our greatest success stories happen every day when we are able to fulfil orders that social workers put in for their families.  Just knowing that a clothing bag we packed yesterday or a pram that was cleaned and safety checked that morning will be arriving at the home of someone in need in our community for their use is amazing.  Our vision is a future where we waste less, share more and care for every child so we are thrilled to see that many of the families who receive equipment from Geelong Mums are rehoming them to us when they have finished so that another family can use them.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

We are a volunteer-driven organisation that exists and survives due to the amazing contribution of our volunteers, donors, and supporters. We welcome everyone through the region to come down to our premises to see what we do and hopefully be inspired to volunteer or support Geelong Mums.

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