JULIA Beattie wasn’t ready for the quiet life of retirement.

So the former call centre manager hit the books and found her passion.

Studying for a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education & Care, an advert on a shop noticeboard caught her eye.

“We’d just moved to Sellicks Beach and I saw a notice asking for volunteers for the local playgroup,’’ Julia says.

“A couple of my friends said, `Why don’t you come along?’ I thought, why not? It would be a good way to meet people and use my studies.’’

Three years later, Julia is a Friday fixture at the Centacare-run playgroup for children aged 0-5.

In addition to the two-and-a-half hours she spends onsite, Julia dedicates about 12 hours each week to researching and preparing new activities for the kids.

She has become a self-taught expert in preschool arts, crafts and cooking, and earlier this year added event planner to her skill set.

“We did our first graduation ceremony in January which was great fun.

“We wanted to do something for the kids who were moving on to kindy and school. I spent a weekend making lots and lots of graduation hats.

“I love working with the kids but it’s nice talking to the mums too.

“It’s good to be able to introduce new mums to other mums who’ve been in the area for a while and see them make new friends. If they get stuck with something, there’s always someone to help and guide them in the right direction.’’

Julia is one of 55 volunteers working across Centacare’s 82 services.

Her advice to those pondering a volunteer role is simple: “Go for it! There are so many rewards and friendships to be made. It makes you feel good!’’

Today marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week, which runs from 9-15 May. This year’s theme, Give Happy, Live Happy, continues to highlight and explore the research that shows volunteers live happier and healthier lives.

For more information, follow the #NVW2016 hastag on social media and visit the NVW website.

Julia Beattie volunteers up to 12 hours each week for Centacare's Sellicks Beach playgroup.

Julia Beattie volunteers up to 12 hours each week for Centacare’s Sellicks Beach playgroup.