In the following years, Val’s commitment never wavered. She spent countless sessions reading, practicing the alphabet, and nurturing these boys’ confidence. Over the course of three years, she embodied what it means to be a mentor – she was a positive role model providing stability and support in their lives. One of the boys moved to Albany Primary School due to changes at home, and Val followed, allowing their sessions to continue uninterrupted.
These experiences were transformative for Val, opening her eyes to the silent struggles so many children face. Moved by her encounters, she resolved to keep volunteering, to be a guiding presence these children desperately needed. A simple act like buying a toothbrush and toothpaste for a child who lacked basic necessities, illustrates Val’s commitment and the need for caring volunteers in schools.
Val’s journey wasn’t confined to one school. When she relocated to Perth, she carried her dedication to Woodbridge Primary School, where her own children had attended years earlier. There, she encountered more challenges, beginning with a 12-year-old student with a penchant for throwing chairs at teachers. But Val persisted, engaging the student in a virtual holiday project that not only improved her literacy but also encouraged her to provide a presentation to the class.
In 2017, Val’s journey took her to Dalyellup Primary School in Bunbury. There, her focus shifted towards supporting struggling students within the classroom. Val wanted to assist more than one student at a time and address the need she could see. Her influence widened as she resurrected the school’s neglected garden, turning it into a space of learning, hard work and reward. With the guidance of her class teacher, Val introduced activities that not only developed practical skills but also empowered the students to think independently.