When Mary Deakin and her husband made a transcontinental tree change from Melbourne to Dunsborough in WA's Margaret River 15 months ago one of the first things she did was seek out her local VIEW Club.
A member of VIEW for 29 years, Mrs Deakin was eager to continue being part of the network of more than 15,000 women around Australia all working together with a big vision - lifting as many disadvantaged Australian children as possible through education. She also knew she'd find an instant source of friendship.
Turning 60 this year, VIEW Clubs of Australia is the largest community sponsor of The Smith Family's Learning for Life program which supports children in need, helping them participate fully in their education, and giving them the best chance at breaking the cycle of disadvantage.
It's a commitment that unites the members of 300 (and growing) VIEW clubs nationally. At the organisation's heart is a proud history of supporting and advocating for disadvantaged children, as well as women and families, underpinned by the community connection and friendship it offers members.
VIEW - which stands for Voice, Interests and Education of Women - has contributed significantly to The Smith Family and its Learning for Life cause. It's raised more than $40 million for the program and its members have volunteered in excess of three million hours.
Right now, VIEW club members support more than 1400 students through the program. As well as raising funds, the members send letters of support to their students who remain anonymous but can correspond with them too.
Mrs Deakin, whose new WA club, Capes VIEW, started just three years ago and supports three students, said she loves the camaraderie and sense of purpose VIEW offers.
"You make very solid friendships, and at the same time we're working together knowing we're doing such good in the community to create better futures for young Australians," she said.
"[I think] VIEW members are all people with a very giving nature, they want to help those less fortunate, and they care about and support each other as well."
In South Australia, retired teacher Erica Kakoschke, a 17-year-long member of the Gawler VIEW Club which currently sponsors 13 Learning for Life students, said the opportunity to make a positive difference in young people's lives was "a privilege and a joy".
"It's wonderful to see them grow. They might come from poor backgrounds but by golly some of them have brilliant minds and knowing we can give them a chance to make something of themselves is very satisfying," said Mrs Kakoschke, who has previously spent two years on VIEW's national council.
"And there's the support we give each other too. A lot of women can sometimes find it difficult to go out and make new friends, some can become isolated, and that's where VIEW comes in. You're welcomed into the club and before you know it you have a whole network of friends."