73. Ally King

7 Dec

Ally 2

Ally King is a passionate young woman who is well on her way to changing many lives. The first year Monash University student was recently nominated in the Youth Category of Banyule’s Volunteer of the Year Award, and for a good reason.

She has been volunteering with the organisation Open House for about four years now, on top of studying Science at Monash University, working part-time at McDonalds and playing in an orchestra at university.

“I’m one of those people who has to be busy,” she says with a laugh. “So I have to be careful I don’t bite off more than I can chew.”

Located in Macleod, Open House is an organisation committed to providing safe places and programs for a variety of people who are marginalised in society. Their focus is on disadvantaged youth.

“Originally I was with their Fun For Girls program, which provides good female role models for kids that are mostly primary school aged who might not have that in their lives. We do a range of things. We might do cooking one week or dance another week.”

During the four years Ally has been with them, Open House has been able to expand their programs.

“I moved with them into their Fun For Teens program, which we run on a Friday night. It gave that same kind of structured program but was aimed at teenagers, in a mixed gender sense. We’ve now expanded and instead of that we run a drop in centre on a Friday night. So I help in the drop in centre, and it’s a safe place where kids can come in their teenage years, and hang out with their friends and get a cheap meal.”

“I’ve also helped develop and run their new playgroup, which has been running for about six months now. So that’s a place where mums from all walks of life can come, bring their kids, and the kids can play while the mums have a talk, have a coffee. It’s a nice place for them to be able to relax while their kids get that important social interaction with other kids.”

This interaction and the possibility of helping vulnerable young people is what Ally finds so satisfying.

“I think it’s so rewarding to see how I can positively influence young people’s lives. See their smiles when they come in every week. I’ve made some amazing friends and connections with some of the teenagers and I’m able to be that positive influence in their life that they might not otherwise have, which is really great.”

“Before that I was already doing volunteering. I’d done an Anglicare asthma appeal through school … I’d been doing the newspaper rounds at the [Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital] for a couple of years.  I’d sung Christmas carols at old people’s homes. I already had a strong history of volunteering by that point.”

Ally heard about Open House through her high school Ivanhoe Girls Grammar. When she was completing her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, she was approached by the volunteer coordinator at school.

“She asked if it was something I would be interested in doing…and I’ve been there ever since.”

When I ask about the future plans with Open House, Ally answers straight away. “We’re looking to expand the playgroup a little bit. Get some more toys and stuff so we can make it the best program possible.”

Her own future plans are just as certain. “I want to work with kids in medicine.”

Given all she has already achieved, I’d say she is well on her way to making this happen.

Words: Charlotte Long

Picture: Sean Porter





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