Changemakers – Mary Franes
Monday, 19th November 2012 at 11:01 am
Mary Franes, Studio Program Coordinator at Kids Under Cover, is profiled in Changemakers – a regular column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.
Established in 1989, Kids Under Cover is a Not for Profit organisation operating in Victoria, Queensland and the ACT. Kids Under Cover responds to the needs of young people who are at risk of becoming homeless due to extreme conflict or overcrowding within the family home. Other issues which may intensify the need for its services include mental health, disability, illicit drugs and alcohol and the housing affordability crisis.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
My day to day work at Kids Under Cover varies quite a bit. It can range from answering calls and explaining the Studio program to people, I could be assessing and reviewing Studio applications, I could be working with families and our partner community service organisation to resolve any issues.
Right at this minute I’m working with the Office of housing to get a Studio in place for a beautiful family of 10 in Melbourne’s North West. The family are recently arrived from Iraq and the family is made up of a sole parent and nine children. The house is obviously too small for everyone and the overcrowding is getting to the point where the kids can’t keep up with their studies, two of the older kids are sleeping the kitchen even. They’re just amazing and have been through so much. The kids are determined to build a better life for themselves here and so determined to focus on their studies.
In providing them with a Studio the kids will have more space to live, have a bed, have room to study and do their homework. The whole family dynamic will improve and give them the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
I have a dedicated interest in the Human Services field, in particular homelessness, and am committed to making a positive difference through supporting individuals and organisations who provide case management and services to those who are vulnerable and most in need.
I am passionate about supporting young people to have access to a stable home environment and the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Every young person deserves the opportunity to realise their dreams.
How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?
I have been a part of the Not for Profit sector for four months now. Prior to joining the team at Kids Under Cover, I worked with the Department of Human Services within the Disability Client Services Division and the Homeless and Family Violence Services team within the Housing Division.
What was your first job in the Not for Profit sector?
Kids Under Cover is actually my first job in the sector. Up until now, I’ve worked in the public sector strictly speaking. I was at DHS before this. Making this transition for me has been amazing. It’s given me the opportunity to be closer to the ground work and get involved.
What is the best thing about working in the Not for Profit sector?
Definitely being a lot of the work. I love being able to work with people directly and have contact with the families. Every day I am inspired by the families and the young people who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in a state of homelessness or at risk of homelessness. The resilience and the hardship they’ve had to overcome is both humbling and inspiring for me.
What do you like best about working in your current organisation?
The work and the impact our work has on young people and their families. I find it very rewarding and inspiring knowing that the work we do at Kids Under Cover impacts people’s lives in such a positive way. But also the team. We are a small team and I love how we’re so united in our work and share the same values and beliefs.
My greatest challenge is…
It’s ironic but as someone has committed myself to working in the Not for Profit sector, my greatest challenge continues to be separating my emotions from my work. I had always wanted to be a social worker but I soon learnt that to be able to perform my job and actually be helpful is to know how to separate myself professionally. I’m emotion first and head second. To this day, I still need to sometimes sit back and remind myself to detach.
School taught me…
Independence. Knowledge is power and being privileged enough to have access to it and have the opportunity to determine my own educational goals and my careers is a blessing. School has taught me that education equals independence and opportunity.
What (or who) inspires you?
My mum. She’s definitely my inspiration and my role model. She’s going through a health hurdle at the moment and yet she’s still the rock in the family. It’s quite funny when you think about it actually, my brother, father and I are constantly fussing over her and getting ourselves into knot and yet, it’s her, the patient who still turns around and has to calm us down and remind us to keep things in perspective. She’s amazing. If I could turn out to be half as intelligent, resilient and kind as her, I’d be a happy cookie.