I retired my Podiatry private practice eight years ago and since that time, I have injected my energy into raising 3 sons and decided that any extra hours I had could best be used in a volunteering capacity.
I started volunteering with Look Good Feel Better in 2016 and the cause was close to my heart. A friend of mine was undergoing chemotherapy and told me of her experiences at one of the workshops. She said “the benefits were overwhelming” and I thought, that’s where I want to be. I love the idea of being involved in that sort of positivity. I enjoy knowing that we are making a significant difference to the participant’s lives, even if it is only for a matter of two and a half hours.
Look Good Feel Better is special because participants receive an unexpected bonus amidst the unpleasant array of medical appointments and side effects associated with this relentless disease. Having the workshops run by volunteers, and cosmetic companies committing to the program through the donation of product is very kind and special in itself. In this world the word ‘free’ is seldom used, but at Look Good Feel Better it is used all the time!
When we welcome a participant to a workshop, we notice the emotional and physical heaviness they often carry with them; it is almost palpable. Quite often you can see them using their hands to physically cover their hairless heads and faces, but throughout the workshop their demeanor changes. They start to experiment with the products. They learn techniques to cover the blemishes, changes to their skin tone, and dark under-eye circles. They are delighted to know how to draw eyebrows on. They see the benefits of accentuating eyes, brows and lips on a complexion that has been blanched and significantly altered by the side effects of treatment. At this point they appear relieved and have hope that they can feel almost normal going out in public again, without others staring and recognising they have cancer.
The participants are then completely overjoyed when they see the limitless headwear options available to them. I love to see them grab the bamboo hats and try them on, overwhelmed with their softness and comfort. And then there is the ‘fringe’ that can be worn under a bandana or hat. They say “who could imagine?” and “nobody would know!”. Finally, they are given the opportunity to interact with other kindred spirits. Only those who have experienced cancer could relate to the physical changes and challenges they face as a result of their treatment. They no longer feel alone in this journey and our participants leave the workshop very happy, confident and excited to try their treasure trove of ideas and products.
I encourage others to volunteer, as a commitment to Look Good Feel Better is an achievable voluntary position. To momentarily and selflessly contribute to something positive to someone else’s life at a time when those people are most vulnerable is truly rewarding.
Having lived in Canberra for over 45 years with my husband Ian, our two children and nine grandchildren, Ian and I decided to have a tree change five years ago and moved from suburbia to a small farm, 32 kilometers from Canberra. We have embraced our country life and love it.
Ian and I have owned our own businesses for many years and, having always been the ‘office lady’, I decided I needed a change and took a role as a cosmetic consultant on a beauty counter in Canberra. I’d always been a make-up person and it was a job I really loved – meeting new people and making life-long friends, learning about make-up and how to apply it.
In 1994, the Look Good Feel Better program launched in the ACT. My brother was going through a cancer journey at that time and I thought ‘this is something I can do – to give back and help cancer patients’. 24 years later I am still volunteering, covering both Canberra venues as facilitator and headwear demonstrator.
Over the time I have been a Look Good Feel Better volunteer I have seen so many brave, courageous, wonderful women go through our workshops and meeting them all has been a privilege. Being able to give women going through a traumatic time in their lives the empowerment to face cancer with confidence always brings joy.
So many women come to workshops very unsure about what to expect. I love to see the changes taking place; the quiet lady suddenly laughing and chatting to the lady sitting next to her. The lady who never wears make-up seeing the transformation it can result in, and loving it. The lady who was never going to wear a wig, wanting to know where she can buy one. These wonderful women always give me that warm fuzzy feeling.
I would certainly encourage others to volunteer with Look Good Feel Better if they are able to. Yes, it is a commitment but it is a wonderful opportunity to help others, it will also lift your own confidence, and the rewards are enormous.
I am 30 years old from Echuca, Victoria and started volunteering with Look Good Feel Better in 2008. I have been a hairdresser for 13 years and have been employed as a senior stylist for the past 11 years.
I absolutely love my job and everything to do with the hair industry, and strongly believe in supporting my local community in the best way I can.
I had heard the Look Good Feel Better program being spoken about on the Oprah Winfrey show about 6 months before I joined as a volunteer. I went to work the day after seeing the segment all fired up about how amazing it would be to be involved in something like it, not realising it was running in Australia. I went overseas for a month and upon returning, signed up to be the wig demonstrator for the Echuca workshops.
What’s special to me about Look Good Feel Better is that we have the ability to directly impact the lives of people who are often at their most vulnerable. I enjoy being involved in people’s journeys and giving them the tools to make going through treatment just that little bit easier.
I find most participants who walk into a workshop are often feeling unsure of what to expect and uncertain of whether it can really make them feel better. By the end of each workshop there is laughter, smiles and an understanding that they aren’t alone in their journey. There’s a realisation that sometimes the smallest rituals – like putting on a little makeup each morning or adjusting their wig while looking in the mirror before walking out the door – are all the tools they need to make this time in their life just that fraction easier.
Aside from learning the tips and tricks to help combat the side effects of treatment, the participants also get to network with others in a similar situation, share stories and most importantly, laugh.
I would encourage anyone who is thinking of getting involved to do so. We get to help people when they are most in need and just being there for someone else is one of the most rewarding things about the whole experience.
I retired to the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane in 2002 with my partner, and we have 5 children and 9 grandchildren.
I am skilled in beauty therapy, makeup artistry, educating and have a background in pharmacy. I decided to start volunteering for Look Good Feel Better in 2012 after reading a newspaper article about the program needing volunteers.
When I first joined the team I was volunteering at two venues on the Sunshine Coast, before we relocated to the Moreton Bay region. After a brief break to settle in to our new life, I got back on board and have spent the past few years volunteering across another three venues.
What I enjoy most about volunteering with Look Good Feel Better is seeing participants walk out of each workshop with smiles on their faces and renewed confidence from spending just 2.5 hours with a wonderful, supportive team of ladies helping them to look good and feel better about themselves.
As each workshop progresses we see the participants relax, connect with the other ladies dealing with the same issues, and develop renewed confidence and self-esteem. The knowledge and skills gained are invaluable, empowering each participant to feel in control of their lives again.
Everything about this wonderful program is special – from the people that run it to the people that contribute and volunteer. I am so proud to say I am part of Look Good Feel Better and would absolutely encourage others to volunteer with the program.
I’m a 43-year-old wife and Mum to two amazing kids, whom I adore. As a family we have travelled the world and have lived in 3 different states in Australia, but for now we are very much at home and settled in Melbourne. After a long career in Human Resource Management I made the decision to re-train in beauty therapy and as a make-up artist, and it was because of this I became involved with Look Good Feel Better.
I began volunteering with the program in 2015. While working as a facial therapist, I met a client undergoing treatment for cancer who was so desperate to feel and look ‘normal’ and like her old self. I was so inspired and encouraged when I was able to help her feel so wonderful that I went straight home to search for ways I could help others in this situation. Look Good Feel Better was ideal, and a perfect way to utilise my skills as a beauty therapist and make-up artist.
The workshops offer women a great opportunity to learn helpful tips and tricks for improving their appearance but more importantly, give women a chance to meet other women dealing with the same concerns. They are understandably vulnerable but find a safe place and a sisterhood, sometimes even developing lasting friendships after our workshops have finished.
I meet women at every workshop dealing with the devastating effects of cancer and its treatments on their appearance. Some of them don’t recognise themselves anymore and avoid looking at themselves in the mirror. Some women have never worn make-up or have never been shown how to use it. Our workshops take away any fear they may have and we give easy to follow tips that they can use at home. I love to watch the physical transformation after our participants have spent the morning playing with make-up and learning about wigs and head scarves. Most participants are quiet in the beginning, but often our workshops end in loud and joyous laughter and conversation. They leave having learned practical ways to help themselves feel better about putting their best selves out into the world.
I love meeting new people and contributing to our community through volunteering with Look Good Feel Better. It’s incredibly inspiring to witness women facing enormous health challenges doing so with bravery, courage and compassion for each other. The workshops are always such great fun and I’ve found some lovely friendships with my fellow volunteers. I also love showing my kids how incredible it feels to help others – Mum is always in a good mood after a morning at a Look Good Feel Better workshop!
Giving my time and help to others voluntarily is a one of the most rewarding parts of my life. Knowing that I can help to make a small difference in the life of someone else is such a great feeling. I’m often asked if I feel sad by what I see in the workshops but quite honestly, I’m inspired and energised by the collective compassion shown by all the volunteers, and the bravery and positivity of the women participating.
Victorian Metropolitan Volunteer of the Year (2015) shares her thoughts on volunteering with LGFB.
“I am a Melbourne girl born and bred. and love to travel. Now that our children are adults, my husband and I are taking the opportunity to travel both far and near. When I’m not volunteering I spend most of my time either at the gym, cooking or quilting. Whilst I haven’t been involved in the beauty industry for many years now, I am loving being involved with Look Good Feel Better and find it both enjoyable and rewarding.
I was fortunate enough to take part in a workshop while going through my own treatment for breast cancer and found it incredibly helpful. I wanted to assist other people in gaining the same benefits that I did, knowing there were some things I could control.
My current role is to show up and fulfil my commitment by doing the best job I can do on the day. The thing I love the most is that all the other volunteers I work with have the same attitude. We are all there to help where we can.
I have been a volunteer for almost four years and assist at a number of venues including Monash Medical Centre, Moorabbin; Frankston Health; St John of God, Berwick; The Bays Hospital, Mornington; and Peninsula Private.
By volunteering with Look Good Feel Better, I gain a sense of satisfaction from giving the participants something to smile about. A lady recently said at the end of a workshop that she could not remember the last time she laughed. That was pretty amazing to me. Our workshops offer so much more than make-up and headwear tips.
Being awarded Victoria’s Metropolitan Volunteer of the Year means many things to me but mostly it gives me encouragement to continue my volunteer work for as long as I can.
To anyone thinking about volunteering I would say do it. You will be empowered by the difference you make to somebody and the friendships you will forge.”
Sydney volunteer of 13 years, Judy was awarded Look Good Feel Better’s 2015 National Volunteer of the Year for her ongoing commitment to the program. Here, Judy provides some insight into her time with LGFB.
“Being empty nesters, my husband and I have kept ourselves quite active by renovating a new retirement home, landscaping and building new gardens as well as socializing with longtime friends, and of course volunteering.
Prior to my recent retirement I worked in HR and Learning Development for over 17 years. My responsibilities included the technical training of staff and client groups, the organisation of client development seminars and the coordination of staff team building activities that benefited various charity groups. I was also trained in skincare and make-up as a Nutrimetics consultant, enjoying many formal make-up sessions and assisting colleagues with wedding groups etc.
I had attended a Nutrimetics training seminar where the LGFB Program Manager at the time was looking for volunteer recruits. At the same time, I had been looking for a way to give back and this program immediately appealed to me. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to use my skincare and make-up training to the benefit of others; to assist cancer patients in regaining personal confidence and to claim control over this very important part of their personal being.
To have the opportunity to contribute my skills, time and effort to an organization that was so generously supplying quality products to benefit cancer patients was a huge factor in my decision to become involved. Providing a safe, fun and personal experience with the only expectation being that participants will have enjoyed themselves in the company of others in similar circumstances with no strings attached, this was (and still is) the true spirit of the program.
My role with LGFB now is volunteer facilitator, which I enjoy immensely! I facilitate at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, co-facilitate at Bankstown Hospital and regularly volunteer at Sutherland and St George Hospitals. I also assist at a number of other venues when needed and at LGFB fundraising and promotional events. It allows me to work on building teams, mentoring volunteers, forging strong friendships with like-minded colleagues and encouraging new volunteers into demonstrating and presenting roles.
My own self-esteem and confidence has grown over my years with LGFB and this in turn has contributed to improvement of my own leadership skills. At every workshop I learn something new, be it a simple trick with the make-up from fellow volunteers or a subtle technique in dealing with different personalities. From each workshop I learn how to improve the experience for the participants, just by doing something a little better or a little differently.
I have far too many memorable moments from volunteering at the workshops, these are just a few:
- The countless times someone has said, ‘I wasn’t going to come today because I wasn’t feeling well/I didn’t think it would make a difference, but I am so glad I did!’
- The daughter attending a workshop with her mum who told us, in tears, that she hadn’t seen a genuine laugh or smile from her mum for months until that day.
- The men’s workshop where the ex-carpenter, while enjoying the pampering, apologised for his rough hands during the hand cream demonstration. He then quietly confided that he had to jump on and off two buses just to get there for that day.
- The woman who said ‘I don’t want to be defined by my cancer diagnosis so thank you for treating us today as if we are normal’.
- The woman who was so distressed because of her recent hair loss and wasn’t going to stay for the workshop because thought she was the only one at the workshop without hair. Another woman seated next to her kindly removed her wig and to assure her she was in good company! The distressed woman went on to enjoy the morning and was the very last to leave. The kindness of others, so very heartwarming.
It is a tremendous honour to be awarded National Volunteer of the Year and it is something that I am very proud of. It is humbling to receive this award for doing something that I love so much and to be amongst so many dedicated, caring volunteers. LGFB has a wonderful base of volunteers who give so freely so much of their time, never seeking for themselves any recognition or reward other than the immense pleasure of making someone else’s day just that little better.
I am very proud to have been a volunteer with LGFB for going on 13 years now and only regret that I hadn’t joined earlier! If you are thinking about volunteering with LGFB, please don’t put it off! The rewards are enormous. It is such a privilege to see the participants at a workshop laughing and sharing time with others in similar circumstances, enjoying the skincare, make-up, and hat and wig demonstrations.
You will gain valuable skills that you will use in everyday life. You will even lift your own confidence and gain great self-esteem. You need to acknowledge and recognize that it is a commitment that you need to be prepared to fully participate in. The program’s success lies with the volunteers’ willingness to attend each and every workshop supporting not only the participants but also their fellow volunteers.”
Natio beauty advisor and volunteer of four years, Ellisa explains why volunteering for LGFB in her hometown is such a privilege.
“I was working at a make-up counter in a department store and one of the beauty advisors was talking about her role as a Look Good Feel Better volunteer. I asked her how she got involved and that night I went online and submitted my expression of interest.
From the word go, it felt like something I had to do. As someone who has spent 15 years in the cosmetics industry I knew I had the skills. Plus, my three children were adults now, so I had time on my hands to volunteer.
By the time I was volunteering at my second workshop I was asked if I would run the make-up demonstration. I was honoured but so nervous to be up presenting and asked the volunteer facilitator to jump in at any time if I forgot anything! Luckily, it became easier and after a few workshops I was fine to lead the demonstration.
In my second year I was asked to facilitate and that is my ongoing role now and I love it. I just love making the participants feel great for a couple of hours during a fairly traumatic time in their lives. For the most part, they come into the room quietly. But they leave with some amazing products, hopefully a fair bit of skincare and everyday make-up application knowledge, and some awesome headwear and wig ideas. They also make friends with people going through the same journey and they leave with a smile on their face.
I feel privileged to be able to give my time and knowledge to Look Good Feel Better; to raise awareness of the program and be a part of the cosmetic industry that enables the program to keep going. When I help women and teens to look and feel better for a few hours and send them home with the tools to do it again tomorrow, that in turn makes me feel better and appreciative of the simple things in life.
I know I speak for most volunteers when I say we love doing what we do. The warm and fuzzies we feel when just one participant thanks us at the end of the workshop is indescribable.
If you want to help out, or have thought you might like to, I suggest get in touch with Look Good Feel Better. Once you’ve observed a workshop you’ll know if it’s right for you.”
Ana shares how her love for cosmetics, an empathetic outlook and a desire to help empower cancer patients has steered her into volunteer work with Look Good Feel Better.
“I love the whole concept of Look Good Feel Better and so it was an easy decision for me to get involved. My husband and I both volunteer for different organizations and with three young adults in our home I think it is invaluable to be a good role model for your children – to enable them to understand the value of becoming a part of their community. I also believe it is important to be able to put back into any cause you have an interest in, or passion for and to realize the rewards of volunteer work both personally and for the cause are far greater than you could imagine.
I am a volunteer for three separate workshop venue; I am a facilitator for one of the workshops and often do the make-up demonstration at the other two workshops. I love working with the volunteers who are all amazing women giving up their time, offering their invaluable experience, knowledge and support. We are always learning from each other but helping the women going through cancer treatment is what makes it so rewarding.
I have gained invaluable friendships as a result of being a Look Good Feel Better volunteer. I have also gained confidence in public speaking (something I have never found easy!); a respect for what women actually face through diagnosis and a new level of compassion, care and gratitude.
New volunteers can expect to meet other women who have similar interests to them. The workshops themselves are fun, inspiring, heart-warming and an honor to be a part of. Even after nine years with Look Good Feel Better the transformation that takes place during the few hours of a workshop just amazes me and proves beyond doubt the power of touch, laughter, care, support and make-up!
One time, I was demonstrating the make-up on a beautiful woman in her early 50’s who admitted she had never worn make-up. She was just mesmerized with every step and she couldn’t believe that it took her illness to discover what make-up could do. She was just so thankful, saying she felt she had discovered a new person! It was such an amazing, positive, uplifting moment from a woman facing so much.
Look Good Feel Better is such a satisfying and rewarding program to be a part of. The workshops are a positive and informative experience. If you join the team, you will be helping to provide a safe environment for participants; facilitating a group of like-minded women; and most importantly helping women feel and look their best.”
As a professional make-up artist, qualified trainer, consultant, hair stylist and brow specialist, Sabrina believes in the importance of giving back. She shares her insights on being part of the LGFB volunteer program.
“I became a volunteer because I wanted to give back and Look Good Feel Better was the best fit. Throughout the workshops I can share all my knowledge about beauty with women who can use the tips and techniques to feel better while undergoing treatment for cancer.
I am currently a make-up demonstrator for the workshop held at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Camperdown, NSW. I am part of a team of professional beauty volunteers who also give their time to run the workshop and share their expertise with the participants. I have also been involved in plenty of media and promotional opportunities, including a filming project alongside our Patron Kerri-Anne Kennerley.
At my very first workshop I felt blessed to be able to share my beauty secrets with a group of ladies that needed my help at the time. By showing them how to draw their eyebrows back on, make their lashes appear fuller and put some colour back into their skin, I was able to help them feel like themselves again.
Ultimately I became a make-up artist to make people feel better about themselves and Look Good Feel Better does exactly that. The feeling of giving is priceless and being able to give the ladies a few hours of laughter, beauty tips and pampering to forget they are undergoing treatment for cancer is what I love about this program.
As a volunteer you can feel good about sharing your advice with women that really need your guidance. After every workshop I walk away with a positive feeling knowing I have gained so much by making them focus on the positives- if it’s only for a moment. It’s also a great way to meet other beauty industry people who you can learn from and who will inspire you to be a better person!
I can honestly say every workshop is memorable! I do remember a young woman who had lost all her hair, lashes and brows. She had also lost so much colour to her face as her skin was dry and pale from treatment. She listened throughout our demonstration intently and just smiled through happy tears, while thanking us for every effort we took to put colour back into her complexion. She held my hand at the end of the workshop and said ‘thank you for making me feel normal again’. For me, this is exactly what the workshop is about.
Whether you’re a make-up artist, beautician, hairdresser or cosmetic consultant you will gain as much joy and experience as I have over the last five years. I will continue to be a volunteer and give my time as long as I can for this great cause – joining the program has really been the best decision I ever made!”
Education Manager for the for the International Dermal Institute shares her thoughts on volunteering with Look Good Feel Better.
“Dermalogica, the company I work for, decided to become a product sponsor and I was so impressed with the work Look Good Feel Better did that I wanted to get involved with the organization on a personal level too.
At my first workshop I arrived feeling extremely nervous, the ‘rookie on the block’! I had a strong sense that I didn’t want to let anyone down – primarily the attendees and of course the other volunteers. Having experienced the journey of cancer treatment with my Mum and after working on clients who have been on the cancer treatment path, I was not fearful of supporting them with their skin concerns, it was more about how to ensure I contributed to the workshop being a fun, upbeat and a positive experience.
These days, I perform the skincare and make-up coaching segment of the workshop. I love this interactive session with the participants and the other volunteers, we try hard to make it a really upbeat, fun and an informative morning. Being passionate about skin health and understanding the unique challenges cancer treatments have on the skin, it’s great to help with skin tips and make-up tricks as to how to ‘look good and feel better’ about yourself.
I love to see people having a good time and that’s what you get at each workshop. Many participants come in feeling nervous, shy, unsure of what to expect. The great thing is that it’s not long before you see that melt away and they relax and start to feel really comfortable.
The journey through cancer treatment is tough on everyone, to be able to put a bit of fun, female bonding, light-hearted connectedness into their day, making them feel good about themselves is an addictive reward. I’ve been close to cancer and its various treatments with several loved ones, from this experience I believe I have the empathy and understanding to support others. The Look Good Feel Better program enables me to do just that and I hope to be a volunteer for many years to come!
Through my experience with LGFB, I’ve learnt how incredibly strong, brave and positive women are when faced with adversity. I’ve experienced the incredible alchemy of women and the power they create when joined together in a collective group, it’s quite remarkable and astounding.
I think the program is vital. I only wish more people knew about it, we had more volunteers join us, and of course we had more funding!
If you’re thinking about joining the team, realise it’s not scary. Seek out all the information you need and then just do it!”
Melbourne wig and headwear specialist, Kirsten says volunteering with Look Good Feel Better has given her a greater connection to her local community.
“I had been looking for some time at volunteering and so I contacted Look Good Feel Better because I believed my expertise with wigs would be a great way to give back to a community that was already a big part of my everyday work.
My first workshop was a bit of a blur, partly because I was helping with make-up and that wasn’t my strong suit! I quickly realised that it was more than just showing someone where and how to apply eye shadow, it was about connecting with women and helping facilitate dialogue with each other. I’m a story-teller by nature so there’s nothing more that I love than to see people sharing their stories!
I love it when I can totally transform a woman’s appearance in seconds with a wig. I watch the expression on her face when she looks in the mirror whilst hearing the other women gasp at the transformation. It gives me a real kick, and then all the other women want to try something on and we just have fun with it.
Volunteering gives you a sense of contribution. So often we lead busy lives where it’s easy to forget why we are running around in the first place. I believe time is one of the most precious things we have, and to give that to help others is vital to our sense of who we are. Volunteering at Look Good Feel Better has taught me that it doesn’t matter where you are from or what you do, we are all here seeking love and peace for ourselves and our loved ones. Life is about making real connections with people and I have made countless connections with other volunteers as well as participants over the years.
In my line of work, I meet a lot of women going through trying circumstances and I always ask them if they have been to a LGFB workshop. I am quick to point out the benefits of meeting other women in a safe environment and enjoying a few hours where they are pampered and treated with kindness- giving them confidence at a time when they may be feeling self-conscious. I believe those few hours can have an enormous impact on the women’s overall well-being during their treatment.
Sometimes during the workshop, the women forget momentarily all that is going on and they are just enjoying the moment. It’s so powerful, it’s palpable and contagious that the whole room is swept up into a time and place where we are all free of our lives outside of that room, it’s such a special feeling!
Our society would be a much better place if we all did some kind of volunteering, to give up your time to help others actually in turn helps your own understanding of what it means to be a part of a community. If you can find an organisation that aligns with your values, you should take the plunge because you will never know how much it will benefit your life until you actually do it.”
Kirsten teamed up with Bupa, on behalf of LGFB, to demonstrate a number of handy headwear tips and tricks. Click here to watch the online tutorial.