Do Good Here Often 2009: Single Volunteers

Do good here often

Single Volunteers Paul Rosenberg and Conor Ayres get chatting among the sausage rolls in the FareShare kitchen.
Photo: SIMON SCHLUTER Volunteer nights for singles promise a win-win scenario: even if you don’t meet that special someone, you can still feel a bit special. Clare Barry reports. It’s a social experiment gone right. Deposit 16 singles in a commercial kitchen for an evening with vegies to chop, eggs to crack and quiches to fill. Sweeten the deal with a 50-50 gender mix and watch the chemistry crackle. The kitchen belongs to FareShare, which turns food donated by businesses into meals for Melbourne’s hungry and homeless. The people power is generated by ”single volunteers” who come to cook for a cause and, just maybe, stir up a little love on the side. Single Volunteers is the brainchild of Melina Schamroth, who, operating under the principle that necessity is the mother of invention, kicked it off in the hope of snaring a man after finding herself single last year. ”I tried internet dating and it was absolutely a disaster for me,” says the 38-year-old. ”It just didn’t work. And I couldn’t bear the thought of going to speed dating, which sounded like 10 job interviews in a night.” She had heard of FareShare and approached CEO Marcus Godinho with the idea of a singles night. He agreed to a trial. ”The first night I had to beg people to come along,” says Schamroth. ”It was a foreign concept – ‘come along and spend a night in a soup kitchen and you might meet someone’. I don’t know if I believed it myself, that love would occur, but I knew it would do something productive and, even in the worst case, would have done something great to make a difference.” So, how did it go ”The atmosphere was just incredible on that first night. There was the most incredible buzz and energy in the room. Everyone forgot about being single, pitched in and got working. I gave everyone a tick sheet at the end of the night (to indicate their interest in fellow volunteers) and people were like, ‘Oh my God, I forgot that’s what we were there for’. Everybody told people, a few people contacted me, a few weeks later we did another one and then it just took off.
”What I discovered was a lot of people are time poor and wanted to meet somebody but also wanted to make a difference, but didn’t know how. To find that combination was a complete bonus.”

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