My name is CJ and when my health crashed I couldn’t work in childcare anymore. But I found a new career after starting as a volunteer at Church 4 Life Charities, in a position that could work around my health needs.
I first volunteered for Church 4 Life Charities in October 2016. I had a job offer at a Childcare Centre but the position wouldn’t start until the new year, so I had some time on my hands. I kept busy by answering the phones and doing some admin tasks. Meanwhile, I learned just what an impact the charity has on my local community, giving people a hand up by helping out in an incredible range of different ways.
In 2019, I moved to Melbourne with my husband for his job. I had a great fulltime position in childcare and quickly made some awesome friends. But I was only there for six months before my health crashed hard, and all the doctors and specialists were at a loss. They had no idea what it was or how to help me. Many of my friends and family started praying for me as I couldn’t work, exercise or do simple tasks. Every day before going to work, my husband made a fire in the fireplace (it’s cold in Melbourne), and carried me from the bed to a chair by the fire. Then when he got home from work, he carried me back to bed. It was a difficult time. At first I couldn’t even watch TV. Watching the fire was all I could handle. I felt such a sense of loss. The physical difficulty also became a serious mental struggle.
My bosses were very understanding and my friends came to visit, until the COVID lockdowns began and they couldn’t. Fortunately, my husband was an essential worker so we were okay financially, but the isolation was demoralising. After some months my health started to improve and I was able to focus and think, even though my body still wouldn’t function. That’s when I started building my skills with design and marketing. After speaking to Gail, I was given the opportunity to work on the Church 4 Life website. I worked remotely and had meetings on zoom with the other designer. I was able to do a little bit at a time as my health would allow. That project gave me something worthwhile to do, and a team to connect with during those long Melbourne lockdowns.
Sometime after that project finished, my husband changed jobs, we moved house and my health deteriorated again. My doctor was concerned and suggested I visit my family in Newcastle as the cold weather in Melbourne seemed to be making my condition unbearable. When I reached Newcastle, my health began improving almost immediately and I moved back to Newcastle permanently. The doctor suggested that I do some volunteer work for only one hour a week, to help my mental health. Naturally, I came back to Church 4 Life Charities. It was a pleasure to start volunteering for that one hour a week knowing it was for a good cause, both good for me and helping others.
That was in July 2021, and I’ve been here ever since. As my health gradually improved I was able to do more until I was offered a paid position. I am still in recovery, but I am currently able to work three days a week. I am also grateful to be part of the amazing community at the Church 4 Life, Boolaroo.
I thank God for all the prayers, support and understanding of the team at Church 4 Life Charities, and the friends and colleagues I work with. I lost my health, and I lost my career, but now I am recovering and have a whole new career that I am passionate about and that works with my health needs. I am so grateful to be part of a team that helps each other and makes a real difference in our community both here in my local area, across Australia and overseas. I love being able to contribute to society in such a meaningful way and I am excited for what the future holds.