Ivantha Perera: Team Leader of Abbotsford Convent restaurant, Lental as Anything

National Volunteer Week 2021 - Ivantha Perera

To celebrate National Volunteer Week 2021 we’re sharing six stories from some of the incredible people who volunteer in the City of Yarra.

Ivantha’s Story

Over the last 20 years Lentil As Anything has been providing over 1000 free nutritious meals a week to vulnerable communities.

This includes refugees and new migrants as well as people who are socially isolated due to mental health issues, limited mobility, advanced age or homelessness.

Four years ago Invatha was walking past the Lentil As Anything restaurant, based at Abbotsford Convent. Although he was studying, he had a bit of spare time so decided to pop inside and ask about volunteering with the organisation.

He has been an integral part of the ‘Lentil family’ ever since!

What made you want to volunteer?

One of the reasons why Ivantha has committed over 4 years volunteer work to the organisation is because is values this as a place where community can come together as one to share a meal, create and collaborate and break down economic and social barriers.

What do you love about volunteering at Lentil as Anything?

Originally from Sri Lanka, Ivantha has found meeting new people and developing new friendships easy since getting involved with Lentil As Anything.

He relishes spending time with the crew that he volunteers with as well as the regular restaurant patrons.

Besides the satisfaction of giving back to the community through sharing his knowledge and feeding the community, Ivantha has had the opportunity to learn new skills, like coffee making through the barista training program.

What skills have you gained?

Ivantha’s volunteer role is Team Leader. He is responsible for writing the menu for the day, setting up the restaurant for service and he assists his team of volunteers for the meal service shift.

Other tasks that volunteers undertake at Lentil As Anything include: cooking, managing donated food produce, food distribution, driving the ‘Lentil’ van and participating in the food-relief catering programs.

“The real-world experience is good for my resume and will be really helpful for getting a hospitality job in the future,” he says.

Any advice for people looking to volunteer?

“Just do it! Try it out to get a good idea of the role and the organisation. Who knows, you just might love it!”

He also thinks the free coffees and meals he gets on his volunteer shifts are a delicious bonus!

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