Southern Gazette (Belmont)
HELP IN A CRISIS
JOAN Sutherland has dedicated much of her life to volunteering.
While living in New Zealand and raising a family, she was also fostering children.
Throughout the ‘80s, she hit the road as a volunteer ambulance officer and helped establish the Broome service with just one 4WD.
She has worked beside Aboriginal women experiencing domestic violence and managed Broome’s women’s refuge when it first opened.
In 2011 she volunteered with The Bridge, helping men deal with substance abuse, homelessness or personal crises.
She has also provided meals for the elderly through Meals on Wheels, and established support staff to work with clients with motor neuron disease.
But her most recent venture is The Haven Centre, which provides meals and other support to those experiencing homelessness or who need a helping hand.
Ms Sutherland is the backbone of operations, feeding up to 200 people from her property in East Victoria Park. Her organisation has expanded since it opened in 2017 to operate a warehouse in Belmont, which stocks furniture, pantry and other household items to distribute to those in need.
“We started the Haven with a $5 donation,” she said.
“It is a place where people can come if they are struggling. It’s a place where people are safe.
“No one in this country should ever be hungry.”
Ms Sutherland said she felt privileged to be part of someone’s life. “Giving back is very important to me,” she said. “Everyone has a life story and everyone has something to give back.
“Volunteering gives me the pleasure of standing beside someone and help them. But I’m only one person. Our dream is to have other people more involved.”
Ms Sutherland is a Volunteering WA awards finalist.