Gen Z perspective on charity work
by Sallie Sommerfeld
A lot of people ask how I started working at Drought Angels. Funnily enough, it was my older sister, who had been working as the Farmer Support Team Leader for around 2 years.
To tell the full story, let us rewind 3 years. I, like many “Generation Z” leaving High School, was looking forward to beginning my university degree and living away from my hometown of Chinchilla. A year down the track, though, I found it just wasn’t for me. I missed my friends; I missed my family and yes, this small town I had always called home. Although at the time it was a very difficult decision to make, I decided to move home to Chinchilla.
I was feeling lost and discouraged, along with the stigma that comes with “dropping out” of university to move home. After being back in Chinchilla a short time, I was offered the opportunity to become part of the Drought Angels team, at the age of 18. My role upon joining the team was to assist in the Farmer Support Team with administrative duties, this included data entry. Yes, I know, it does not sound appealing for an 18-year-old, but I could not have been more content. In this role I began learning about the different types of primary production and the different areas that have been hit by the devasting Drought, Flood and Fires. As someone who grew up in the country, this wasn’t even really something I knew or understood, especially because it was not something that popped up on my news feed or stories.
Each day, I awoke with a fire in my belly, a passion to help Australian Primary Producers across the country who needed us and having joined a charity that does this very well, I had the ability to truly make a difference. As a young person I understand that sometimes it is not easy for us to “get involved” in charitable organisations because we are unsure where to start or what help we would actually be to them. My Generation Z brothers and sisters, please understand though, you, yourself have worth in this space. Becoming part of a charity, either through volunteering your time or pursuing in a career within not-for-profit charity you have youth, enthusiasm, and perspective to offer.
I never intended for this job to take me to the places it has, both personally and professionally. From working in data entry for the Farmer Support Team, to the Events Team, where I get to help plan and attend events to share the philosophy of Drought Angels, I have seen a bit of everything. On the flipside, I was introduced to a new level of devastation, heart break and challenge. The reality of the raw emotions of farmers and seeing them on their own property being hesitant to speak and seeing with my own eyes the reality of the ongoing drought and the effects it is having on families. This has provided a new layer of perspective as a young person living in Australia, it has given me confidence, understanding and a way to sympathise with those who need us.
I am grateful to be able to share with all of you, so that perhaps you may see the worth in becoming another young person to help share the message that Australia is a very lucky country, we have strong agricultural roots, which need to be preserved. How will this happen? Well, let’s start with awareness, I encourage everyone to like, follow and get involved as much as possible. Volunteer your time, donate $5 to the campaigns, buy some merchandise, and share the stories of families that you are making a difference to. Buy from your local farmers market & buy Australian Made products!
I know it can sometimes seem like, because of our age, we can’t make the impact we would like, but let me tell you that we can make the greatest impact and help more lives than you ever thought possible. As a member of “Generation Z”, working in the charity space, at Drought Angels, it has been one of the highlights of my life and has allowed me to experience some of the most rewarding moments that will make me as a 21-year-old forever grateful for Australian agriculture and primary producers.