Faye McDougall

Every Thursday, when Faye McDougall arrives at Dandenong South Primary School during a busy recess, an excited chorus of “Hi Mrs. McDougall!” and “Hi Mrs Mac!” can be heard from the playground. Faye is an education volunteer and has been assisting with 2 classes of grade 5 and 6 students, helping them with Maths and English.


Last year, Faye decided to retire after 38 years as an optometrist. “When I retired, I knew I wanted to do more with helping kids get a better basis in education” she said. Having already completed Certificate in Childhood and Adolescent Development, Faye pursued a Certificate of Education Support- Integration Aide. A serendipitous call-out for volunteers in her local newspaper brought her to Ardoch Youth Foundation.

Ardoch is not the only organisation Faye generously donates her time to. For the past 11 years, Faye has been a volunteer with Whitelion, a charity dedicated to supporting at-risk youth. Every second Saturday night, Faye boards the Chatterbox Bus, a mobile service that traverses through Melbourne’s CBD and inner suburbs looking for at-risk teenagers. The bus provides bedding, toiletries, computer access, crisis accommodation, food and drinks. Seeing children as young as 12 in gangs and on the verge of homelessness, it became clear to Faye that if many of these children had a better education, their circumstances would be better.


“With no schooling, what can they do?  To try and get them into some job and to apply for basic things, without a formal education, is very difficult. It’s very limiting, it’s one of the biggest factors that hold them back. Every kid should be given the opportunity to have a great education.” said Faye.


The highlight of Faye's volunteering experience at Dandenong South so far has definitely been the interaction with the students. While assisting with writing tasks where topics range from monsters invading the school to more serious items like reports on penguins, one of the students turned to Faye and exclaimed “I never used to like writing, but now it’s fun! I really enjoy it!”. During a math class, after Faye had demonstrated how to add up decimals in a table, the student said “No one has ever shown me that before. That makes it so much easier!”


“It’s just little things like that, where you think ‘Wow! That was worthwhile, perhaps I have helped in some way!’” mused Faye.


Next week, Term 4 starts and Faye is excited to return to Dandenong South and catch up with the students. For those interested in becoming volunteer, Faye’s advice is: “Just do it! The more people volunteer, the better opportunities our kids are going to have. Ardoch is great organisation to volunteer for. Kids deserve every opportunity, and every chance to be the best they can. And if can they can fulfil their potential, the sky’s the limit isn’t it?”  


We thank Faye for supporting education in disadvantaged communities.


Ardoch is an education charity that supports children and young people in disadvantaged communities. You can help us by making a donation or signing up as a volunteer.