The Footpath Library simply couldn’t exist without the many volunteers who generously donate their time. It is thanks to their tireless dedication that we can offer our services to the homeless community. In this edition, we introduce you to our Melbourne Branch Manager Shayne Francis who explains why she has been volunteering at The Footpath Library for the last two years.
[Pic: Shayne Francis (left) with Lucy Louca, Melbourne Volunteers Manager at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival]
Q: How long have you been volunteering for TFL?
A: I have been the Melbourne Branch Manager for the last two years.
Q: Why did you choose to volunteer for The Footpath Library?
A: I had time on my hands with my children at school and was looking for something meaningful and engaging to get involved with.
Q: What does your role as Melbourne Brach Manager involve?
A: My role is pretty varied. As the Branch Manager one of my main tasks is to co-ordinate the management team. I’m very lucky as this part of the role is easy as they are such a great group of people.
The other main part of my role is to set up new libraries. Recently I have established libraries with Refugee Resource Centre, Youth Drug and Alcohol Support, Public Housing facilities. I also visit existing clients to service their libraries and make sure we are sending them the kind of books they want to read.
To ensure we always have a good supply of books I liaise with our generous donors to accept and at times pick up their donations. This year I’ve visited private homes, schools, bookshops, the ABC and the Wheeler Centre to visit donors. At times I also have the opportunity to speak to school groups about what we do and to thank them for their generous donations, which I really enjoy.
I try to attend some of the packing sessions so that I can spend time with our brilliant volunteers. This is where I can actually hand pick the books for our clients. I love touching the books…I just can’t help it.
Q: Wow, it sounds pretty busy. What’s one of your favourite parts of your role?
A: A favourite part of my role is raising awareness for The Footpath Library. I recently organised for us to have a presence at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival which was a really successful networking opportunity.
As an actor, I wanted to bring together my two great loves so for the Williamstown Literary Festival I’m organising an event that will feature a group of well-loved Melbourne actors reading from books that have touched their lives.
Q: Why do you think providing books to homeless people matters?
A: The homeless are already doing without so much. A book is a small portable thing but carries inside it immeasurable potential: for diversion, entertainment, fascination, amusement, instruction and a whole lot of other words that contribute to the nourishment of a soul.
I know how important books are to me and I think it’s so important that we don’t assume that those who fall on hard times require only food and shelter for support.
Q: Do you have a favourite genre of books/author, if so why?
A: I like books about other cultures and times which have an emphasis on character and relationships that highlight the human condition.
Q: What are you reading at the moment?
A: The Orphan Masters Son by Adam Johnson and I just finished The Son by Phillip Meyer.
I need a new bookshelf to manage the collection of books that currently litter my bedside.
If you are interested in volunteering for The Footpath Library, check out our volunteer vacancies page or contact the relevant Volunteer Manager via the form located here.