ASC volunteer’s resolution to run

Meet Natalie, a volunteer who once a week helps asylum seekers find work. Next month, Natalie's taking to the streets of New York to raise funds for the Centre. October 03, 2023

Natalie knows how far a dollar goes at the Asylum Seekers Centre. For the past 12 months, she’s volunteered in the employment team. She’s seen first-hand the impact the ASC can have on someone finding their feet in Australia.

“What we’re aspiring to do is to help people find work, but I would further that to say that we are trying to help them find work that’s meaningful to them and that aligns with their skills, their competencies, their experiences.”

In November, Natalie is using a lingering New Year’s resolution to support the organisation further.

“Every January, my resolution is to do a marathon. So this year, I just decided that I was just going to make it happen.”

And not just any marathon. In November, Natalie leaves for the US to run the New York Marathon and, in doing so, raise valuable funds for the ASC.

Natalie (front left) at the ASC’s Rosemary’s Way screening

Natalie’s been following the ASC for years, but a film screening and Q&A hosted by the Centre in 2022 spurred her to get more involved.

“It was a screening of Rosemary’s Way in Paddington that really caught my attention, and that’s when I reached out.”

Rosemary Kariuki at the Asylum Seeker’s Centre’s ‘Volunteer Week’ event

Rosemary’s Way is a documentary about Rosemary Kariuki, a refugee who was once supported by the ASC and later returned as a volunteer and then as a patron. The film tells of Rosemary’s mission to empower other migrant and refugee women, bringing them out of cultural silos and introducing them to new ideas, experiences and the wider Australian society.

“I liked the idea of how Rosemary was connecting people not only with other people seeking asylum in Australia but with everyone. I really, really liked that.”

So, Natalie signed up online to hear about volunteer opportunities. She heard about an opening for an Employment Advisor position, applied, and was successful. Now, every Tuesday, Natalie sits down with people seeking asylum and assists them with their own job search, from finding opportunities to writing resumes to interviewing tips.

“Sometimes it can feel a bit hard,” Natalie reflects, “Say if a client hasn’t heard from a potential employer or they’re just not quite sure where they stand. But at the end of most shifts, I feel like we’ve helped people move forward, even inch by inch.”

Natalie describes the experience of volunteering as two-way, talking about how much she learns from those she works with. A month out from an immense challenge, she’s completely energised by the work that she sees around her every Tuesday – “the services, the welcoming, the advocacy, the care, the compassion”.

“All the work that the ASC does…. I think it is just amazing, and I’m really proud and honoured to be a part of it.”

Donate to Natalie’s New York Marathon fundraiser here.

Reflecting on our first year of reconciliation Stitched together