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Cate Balfour-Ogilvy is the amazing Volunteer Services Manager at ACH Group, photographed here for an article about her amazing personality and committment

Making a difference as the Volunteer Services Manager at ACH Group

Some career pathways are straightforward, some are paved with little side quests, and some are a bit of both. If you believe that a career journey guides you to find the right role – aligned with your purpose and your gift to share with the community – this has certainly been the case for Cate Balfour-Ogilvy, Volunteer Services Manager at ACH Group.

Cate joined ACH Group in July 2023, and her positivity, dedication, humour, and can-do attitude has transformed the way volunteering is cultivated in the community.

We asked Cate about her role as a Volunteer Services Manager at ACH Group, her advice for those considering volunteering, and some light-hearted questions.

Meet Cate Balfour-Ogilvy, ACH Group Volunteer Services Manager

From her early days in Renmark to her leadership roles across rural Australia, Cate’s life story is a testament to her passion for helping others and her dedication to fostering a sense of belonging among volunteers. In this interview, Cate shares her journey, insights, and the values that drive her work.

Tell us about yourself and your life journey that led you to become who you are.

I was born in Renmark and had an early start in different roles and experiences. In 1989, I had the incredible opportunity to be an exchange student in South Africa. After that, I pursued a Bachelor of Arts at Flinders University, although I often wonder why I chose that path!

In the early ’90s, I was fortunate to be crowned Miss Renmark and Miss Murraylands. I was lucky to have all four of my grandparents in my life until my early 20s, spending every school holiday in Adelaide.

My career has taken me across rural South Australia, New South Wales, and the Northern Territory, living and working in places like Renmark, Deniliquin, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Palmerston, Whyalla, Clare, and now Adelaide.

I’ve held numerous jobs, mainly in leadership roles within community services, including aged care, mental health, and disability.

My first job was managing the Renmark Tourist Office, where I had my first experience coordinating volunteers, many of whom knew me well. One was even a former teacher of mine!

My journey in community services began as a tutor for high school students at risk of nonattendance, a job I loved. One of my favourite roles was as Manager of the Top End Mental Health Organisation, a support group operated by people living with mental illness. It was truly inspiring.

What sparked your passion for guiding volunteers in making a difference and starting your role at ACH Group?

Working in aged care, I had long admired ACH Group for their leadership in person-directed care and their determination to promote choice and control. They always looked cool, and I remember hearing Ivy (Ivy Diegmann, General Manager Brand, Strategy & Innovation) speak on several occasions.

Volunteers bring such variety to our world with their different interests and life experiences. It’s amazing to watch volunteers connect with customers over shared interests or experiences.

On a personal level, I learn so much from them about doing my job better by understanding what truly matters.

Could you recount a moment that deeply resonated with you as a volunteer services manager?

There are so many moments, but one that stands out is the sense of togetherness that volunteering promotes. Recently, a couple of our volunteers became quite unwell, and the care and love that other volunteers showed them was heartwarming and beautiful.

Cate dedicates her time to welcoming new volunteers and ensuring they have everything they need to make a difference. She also attends volunteering expos, participates in events to expand volunteering opportunities, and builds partnerships with volunteer organizations.

What do you love most about your role?

The best part of my role is watching volunteers connect with our customers, employees, and each other. It’s meaningful, real, and fun.

What values drive your approach to recruiting volunteers?

Celebrating uniqueness and loving what we do are key values. Volunteers bring so much variety to our lives, and their altruism is a powerful motivator. These values are everything to our work.

Share a story of a volunteer whose journey touched you deeply.

Many stories have touched me, particularly those of volunteers who are newly arrived in Australia. Hearing about their journeys and the sacrifices they’ve made to start a new life here is incredibly moving.

They often miss their families deeply, and if we can help them find a sense of belonging here, we should. We are so lucky to have such amazing people choose to come here.

How do you create a sense of belonging and purpose for volunteers?

We do many things, like matching volunteers with roles that align with their skills and interests, and expressing gratitude and thanks at every opportunity.

Share a touching anecdote of a volunteer who went above and beyond to make a difference.

A memorable story is from last Christmas when a community member who had started the volunteer journey but had to put it on hold due to a job offer reached out. She had free time on Christmas Day and wanted to visit some customers.

We quickly arranged for her to visit four people, and she even put together small gifts and cards for them. It was such a beautiful gesture.

What is your vision for volunteering at ACH Group?

My vision is for a volunteer program that engages all community members, including those who identify with a range of diversities, for the benefit of our customers.

What’s one key message for those considering volunteering?

It’s not difficult to make a difference. The sum of all your parts—the skills and experiences you have – is exactly what we need.

What keeps your passion for volunteer management alive and thriving

Watching the benefits that volunteering brings to our world, hearing positive feedback from our customers about our volunteers, and seeing the joy that volunteering brings to our volunteers keep my passion alive. Their hearts are filled with joy, and it’s amazing to witness.

Describe yourself in three words and an emoji.

I asked my co-workers Dee and Evie for this one: Positive 😊, Selfless 🤲, Can-do 💪.

What do you enjoy in your free time?

I love spending time with my family, whether it’s watching kids play sports, going out for tea, or just laughing together. I feel very grateful to have my family.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to keep traveling, which is the standard answer. Aside from that, my life plan is to do whatever I can to have a long and happy life with those I love and who love me.

 If your job had a theme song, what would it be?

 “From Little Things, Big Things Grow” by Paul Kelly and The Messengers.

 If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

 “Sun Comes Up” (feat. James Arthur) by Rudimental.

Ready to start something new?

Register your interest to volunteer at ACH Group.

Read about the benefits of volunteering, and how to get started.

Learn more about the residential and community based social, wellbeing and support programs at ACH Group.

About ACH Group