An undiscovered passion for helping others was brought to light, as North Melbourne’s Ben McKay had the opportunity to volunteer for The Huddle.
Now one of six North AFL players, alongside five AFLW players involved with the club’s community arm, McKay is helping support youth through various Huddle programs.
“No matter who you are, you’re valued in the community and that’s what The Huddle is so good at,” he said.
“Everyone has a voice and for me I’m really passionate about helping people and seeing them grow; it’s been a really good opportunity to take.
“There’s a lot of kids with different upbringings to what I had, and it gives you a good perspective on your life and their life and how no one’s the same.”
McKay said regardless of how you grow up, you can still find common ground and help each other through sharing experiences.
“It’s good to have a different upbringings; it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person or not going to go anywhere in the future … it’s about you trying to shed some light and help them through their early stages of their life,” he said.
“I really enjoy talking to kids out about their journey and sharing your experiences and going through values and leadership, and that’s probably the time where I wanted to get a bit more involved outside footy.
“I love helping people - that’s probably one of my biggest passions. Whether it’s helping people in a small way, or a large way, doing the small things for them, being polite, all those sort of things that a lot of people can really benefit from.
“Giving them little pieces of advice … and a lot of the kids we worked with last year are pretty shy and quiet and don’t really speak up that much; we’re giving them a voice as well and giving them the confidence.
“It really gives me a good perspective on myself. No one is the same, you need to treat people with respect no matter who it is and you don’t know what someone’s been through, so you should never judge anyone or shame anyone because of their upbringing or their situation at home.
“It’s really important, not that I didn’t acknowledge that before, the importance of treating everyone equally and helping them grow and develop into leaders in the community.”
McKay said it’s a special week, recognising volunteers all across the nation.
“It’s a unique time were in at the moment, the volunteers in the health departments have been massive, they’re giving up their time and their energy and their money to help people and it’s from the heart,” he added.
“The more we can appreciate that and acknowledge that will make more people want to do it and its pretty cool to have the opportunity to volunteer, even if it’s a small quantity like myself, it’s amazing what people do through the goodness of their heart.”
National Volunteer Week runs from Monday, May 18 – Sunday, May 24.