Palms Australia builds both social and financial capital primarily as a result of the preparation and support we provide to global volunteers. That is, volunteers returning from a global assignment feel that Palms has played a significant part in the growth they experience and want to give something back. This gives them a strong belief in the program and they choose to be part of its continuation.
Barbara Clark does not fit that fine theory. She has never been a global volunteer and so never has she experienced the benefits of being prepared and supported by Palms. Barbara’s first engagement with Palms started after answering a 2002 advertisement in her church bulletin where we were seeking office volunteers to assist with the administration of enquiries and applications.
There was a good response, but while others went on to other things, eight years later, Barbara is still coming into the Palms office two days a week to do the administration around global volunteer applications. In the process she has assisted us to develop and maintain Palms database but, not happy for the names on forms to be simply that, Barbara has been active also in providing Palms hospitality especially in the meeting, greeting and transporting of participants from airport to courses.
Every time Barbara’s smiling face greets me I am warmed by the confidence that a huge part of the process, from first enquiry to archiving of past volunteer files, will be managed super efficiently. Her organisational skills give us the capacity to perform well beyond what Palms’ budget should allow. I have sometimes heard it said by managers that no one is irreplaceable, but I suspect Barbara Clark does not fit that fine theory either.
After returning home and settling into a new teaching appointment it was only a short while before John was offering Palms his assistance. Having seen some of his magnificent photographs from Kiribati we realised he had a keen eye for a great image and set him to work on the Palms Post layout. As a reader you are aware of how good he makes us look.
John gives up whole weekends and evenings every three months to make each edition very distinct, yet easy for the reader to follow. If the stories don’t read well he gives us the relevant feedback before adding the pictures, headings and other graphics in ways that further enhance the communication.
When we asked John to change all the formatting in March 2009 so that we could produce the current size John questioned our wisdom, but took the time to give it a go. In doing so he made it look even better than we had anticipated. We are still getting great feedback from readers.
John is also an active member, attending any meetings when he gets the opportunity to be in Sydney. And just like when I see Barbara’s smiling face, I feel confident about the Palms vision being communicated to our networks when I get to shake his hand.