Reaping the rewards of stepping in to help

Jamberoo couple Amanda and David* knew that volunteering for CareSouth's Aunties & Uncles program wouldn't take a lot of their time, but it would take a long time.

The couple spend just one weekend a month with their "nephews", aged 6 and 9, but it's a mentoring role they've committed to for many years to come.

Twelve months into their journey, the pair are already reaping the rewards of opening their hearts, and their home, to the two young boys.

"We have a couple of close friends who are part of the program and we thought that we had something to offer too," Amanda said.

"The bond we've developed over the year has been wonderful - already the boys are talking about things we've done together so we're getting that shared history, which is just lovely.

"It's been an interesting journey, and an extremely satisfying one," she said.

"We just want to help expand their horizons and give them experiences that they may not get otherwise."

Aunties & Uncles program manager Clare Wilson said the program had been linking disadvantaged children with trained volunteer carers for 21 years.

"Many of these children don't have solid mentors or extended family and this program links them with appropriate, committed adults who give them their time, while also giving their parents a break," she said.

"Carers don't have to do anything different or special or expensive with their nephews and nieces - they just need to include them in their usual activities."

Amanda and David organise special outings for the boys, but have found it's the simple things they love most.

"They love paddling in the creek on our property and dropping rocks in it and they love taking our dogs on walks and exploring," Amanda said.

* Surnames withheld

■ CareSouth is seeking more volunteers for its Aunties & Uncles program. Information sessions will be held on February 24, 7.30pm-9pm at All Saints Anglican Church, Austinmer; February 26, 6pm-7.30pm at The Milton Ulladulla Ex Servos Club; February 27, 6pm-7.30pm at Bomaderry Bowling Club.

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