Volunteering for Fun with The Supertee Project
Volunteering for something you are passionate about, helps you find purpose and gives you a greater understanding of how you can give back.
No volunteer organisation is the same and we can all find one that makes us care about making an impact. This is something that our Community Development Manager has discovered, by volunteering for The Supertee Project.
AR: What do you think is interesting about your way of choosing to volunteer?
MF: I am an artistic person and it gives me a creative outlet. I write, I draw and I love popular culture. It’s a great way to integrate the two sides of my personality – my love of volunteering and popular culture.
AR: How has integrating the two sides of your personality benefited you?
MF: It gives me a sense of purpose behind what I am doing. It’s one thing to show up as yourself and volunteer. It’s also one thing to make the effort to have a costume made, dress up in it and be willing to endure how uncomfortable it can be for hours on end; just to make a child happy. If you can make one kid smile from dressing up like that, you know you’ve made an impact.
AR: What is something that brings you joy when you are volunteering for the Supertee Project?
MF: The looks on the kids’ faces when they see their favourite superheroes and experience what it’s like to meet their favourite superhero. It’s also the look on their faces when we give them the Supertee because the message it sends is that they’re the heroes, we are just following their example. We tell them, “You’re our heroes,” to give them a confidence boost. To see the look on their faces, is something I can’t describe.
AR: Why do you think of the kids as heroes?
MF: They’ve got so much will to live, you can see they are going through a tough time. They still have enough energy to get up to come and see us. They can have a laugh or smile after going through what they do. I wish more adults had that kind of will.
AR: Does your shared love of popular culture inspire the kids to enjoy their lives?
MF: A lot of the kids we’ve met are between 4-10 years old. They are old enough to have watched these movies or cartoons so they know who we are. Sometimes they take the illusion a little further than we expect. One of the wards we visited at Monash Children’s hospital actually asked me if I was the real Batman.
Then he went into asking all the crazy questions – ‘Did you fly here?’ ‘Did you drive here?’ He also specifically asked me ‘where’s Alfred?’. Getting to go back and forth with that kind of banter is a lot of fun.
AR: What was your response when you were asked ‘Are you the real Batman?’
MF: I said, “Of course I am.” You gotta play along, you can’t break character. You actually are there as a character. There are times where you had to get out of the character because the mask was too hot. When that happens, I sneak out the back so the kids couldn’t see me.
AR: When you are playing the character, do you feel like a part of yourself is involved?
MF: I like to think I am playing the character as I would, if I was acting it out in a film.
AR: Tell me about why you love Batman.
MF: Batman has been my favourite character since I was a kid. One of the first movies I can ever remember watching is the 1989 Tim Burton film, I was born that same year.
Michael Keeton is the man who plays Batman in that film and he looks a lot like my father. When I was a kid, I used to think it was my Father in the suit. It’s an extension of saying “My father’s my hero or my role model.”
AR: So, is Batman a personal hero for you?
That’s the reason why I have always enjoyed the character. As I have gotten older and read more about the character and played the character, I’ve realised there is a strong sense of purpose behind the character.
He knows who he is, he knows what he wants to do, he knows he wants to make an impact and he knows he is not going to change the world by himself. If he can make a difference in just one person’s life that’s enough. That’s the type of mindset I take when I wear the suit for these kids.
AR: What does getting to play your personal hero mean to you?
MF: I know I can make a difference dressing up as Batman. If I can make a difference in one child’s life, that’s enough for me. There are plenty of volunteers who spend hours and hours and hours volunteering for a cause. They say they are making a difference but I know from personal experience that it’s not always the case.
If you are volunteering for a cause that you are not passionate about, you are just volunteering for the sake of volunteering. You are not putting enough motivation or enough energy into it. I am now volunteering in a unique way and I know I am putting as much of myself into it as I possibly can.
AR: It’s amazing that you have gone through a personal transformation through volunteering for the Supertee Project. When you compare how you were volunteering before to how you are volunteering now, what is the greatest change that has taken place?
MF: It has given my life a bit more clarity in terms of the direction I want to take my volunteering projects and my creative projects.
AR: Where are you going to focus your volunteering and creative efforts in the future?
MF: I am sticking with the Supertee Project. They’ve given me a sense of purpose and I have a passion for both sides of it. I will help them out as much as I can for as long as I can. I’ve liked being involved in something where I can combine one interest with another.
Interview by Annie Renouf, Content Writer at Communiteer