Walter Villagonzalo:

When I started volunteering, I felt more accepted into the community and felt part of the community. Hi, my name is Walter Villagonzalo. I'm a volunteer here at the Canopy Accelerator Cooperative. We are a social enterprise addressing climate change and also the need for more trees in the City of Wyndham and the Western Suburbs. What we're doing here is growing seeds to saplings, and a lot more people are now conscious about their part in greening this area.

There is a need for change in this area and one of the things that we're doing is looking at how people can contribute to effecting that change. Volunteering can do that. A lot of migrants coming here are skilled migrants. They are achievers in their country, but they come here and they felt like their skills are not recognised and less productive member of the community.

But volunteering can change that. It changed me. I didn't feel accepted. I didn't feel belonging. And when I started volunteering, I felt part of the community. My family and I moved to Australia in 1986. I was a full time volunteer for more than 25 years in the City of Wyndham. I was also the Citizen of the Year here, and became a councillor and deputy mayor.

A lot of people, especially new arrivals, they want to volunteer. They want to get involved in the wider community, but they don't know how to do it. One advice that I can give is look for opportunities. There are a lot of opportunities and we have a lot of volunteer hosting organisations. They just need to start. And if it's not right for them, then they can go to other organisations.

Page last updated: 15/05/23