Give Happy Live Happy
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.volunteeringwa.org. au.