Give Happy Live Happy

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - STREET WATCH -

AT 22, life for Matthew Wong is pretty happy.

He has a job he loves as a web de­vel­oper at bou­tique firm Eduka, as well as great friends and a sup­port­ive fam­ily.

But the ex­pe­ri­ence of vol­un­teer­ing to as­sist Perth's home­less last year made Matt ap­pre­ci­ate his for­tu­nate life even more and added a big­ger smile to his face.

To­gether with his work team, he vol­un­teered for Home­less Con­nect, a day that brings to­gether com­mu­nity groups, busi­ness and govern­ment agen­cies to pro­vide ser­vices and pro­vi­sions to Perth's home­less.

Home­less Con­nect has run in North­bridge for nine years and last year at­tracted more than 1800 peo­ple.

“Grow­ing up, I had the per­cep­tion that home­less peo­ple were to be feared,” Matt said. “My par­ents were hard­work­ing Chi­ne­seMalaysian im­mi­grants, who did ev­ery­thing they could to pro­vide for my­self and my sib­lings, and give us a great ed­u­ca­tion.

“Vol­un­teer­ing at Home­less Con­nect and chatting to some of the at­ten­dees opened my eyes to the fact that peo­ple were af­fected by home­less­ness for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons, of­ten many of which were out of their con­trol.”

Of sig­nif­i­cance to Matt was meet­ing an el­derly Asian home­less woman, whose scis­sors she used to cut up her food had been stolen.

“This woman was suf­fer­ing from a dis­ease, which meant she could not eat large pieces of food,” Matt said.

“The scis­sors en­abled her to eat; they were es­sen­tially her lifeline.

“Who would've thought that some­thing as sim­ple as scis­sors could be so im­por­tant to some­one ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness?”

Touched by the woman's story, Matt made sure she re­ceived new scis­sors.

“I re­alised through vol­un­teer­ing that day that home­less­ness was not some­thing that any of the at­ten­dees had cho­sen and I gained a new per­spec­tive on home­less peo­ple al­to­gether as a re­sult,” he said.

“It also re­ally made me ap­pre­ci­ate how for­tu­nate I was and I was thrilled to play a small part in as­sist­ing some of the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple with a step-up.

“Vol­un­teer­ing to help oth­ers gave me a real sense of pur­pose and sat­is­fac­tion,” he said.

“I'd def­i­nitely vol­un­teer again, and would en­cour­age every­one to find a vol­un­teer op­por­tu­nity to try, even if it's for one day, as it can make such as dif­fer­ence to your, and some­body else's, life.”

Find out more about vol­un­teer­ing at Home­less Con­nect in Novem­ber at www.home­less­con­nect.vol­un­teer­ au.

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