Lort Smith is fortunate to have highly passionate, experienced and knowledgeable people on staff. Christine is no exception. As our Volunteer Engagement Manager, Christine has worked at Lort Smith for the past eight years and diligently manages a dedicated team of 398 volunteers – almost double the number of staff we employ!
Christine holds qualifications/certifications in change management, process improvement, training and volunteer administration.
The role of Volunteer Engagement Manager at Lort Smith is extensive and in order for the program to run like the well-oiled machine it is, requires the highest calibre of talent.
Christine’s key responsibilities include; the strategic development of the program; recruitment, on boarding and retention of volunteers; continuous improvement of policies and procedures; development of our volunteer management system; providing volunteer support; reward and recognition; piloting programs; evaluation and reporting.
Change management is particularly relevant right now as we look to the future and the opening of our second site. “It’s imperative that we consider the impact this will have on volunteers and ensure they are brought along on the journey,” explains Christine.
Christine created Lort Smith’s first Volunteer Advisory Committee as she wanted to provide an avenue for volunteers to be consulted with about decisions which impact them.
“I’m so proud to lead such an amazing group of people. They inspire me every day and I cannot speak more highly of the Lort Smith volunteers,” says Christine.
She states that Lort Smith is only able to rehome the amount of animals we do because of the volunteers. “They offer invaluable support via foster care, as well as onsite in the cattery and kennels. The shelter animals receive so much TLC and enrichment from the vollies as they prepare for adoption.”
“Our volunteers extend our reach and mission to the community. Lort Smith Pet Therapy teams are literally out there providing people, in a variety of facilities throughout Melbourne, with the benefit of the human-animal bond. Additionally, volunteering at Lort Smith gives those without pets at home, the opportunity to experience the human-animal bond, which as we all now know, has countless physical and emotional health benefits.”
Research undertaken by @Volunteering Australia found that people who were able to continue volunteering during COVID-19, had significantly and substantially lower levels of psychological distress than those who stopped volunteering and those who had never volunteered in the first place.
Christine encourages anyone who is in a position to volunteer their time to do so. “Think about your passions and your interests and get involved. Volunteering is good for you! You’ll connect with your community in a meaningful way, build relationships and learn new skills.”
With Lort Smith Animal Hospital – Campbellfield Centre opening in the near future, Christine is eager to harness the passion and skills of the community in the north. New roles are being developed and others expanded – there will be opportunities to volunteer onsite and through foster care.
“Lort Smith was started by two amazing women [Louisa Lort Smith and Lady Frances Lyle] who volunteered their time. It makes me proud that Lort Smith was essentially started by volunteers. Volunteers have been an essential and important part of our history and will continue to be into the future,” shares Christine.