After spending a short time chatting with just three of Blue Haven Care’s 115 volunteers, The Bugle is left with no doubt they feel their role is valued, needed and enjoyable.
Jan Dodge has been helping out with the centre-based care for 17 years, and has no desire to stop.
“Volunteering really helped me settle into Kiama when we came down from Sydney,” she says.
“It gave me a focus and helped me make friends.
“The people who come along to do activities here or go on an outing are so happy to be here.
“It really sends you home with a smile.”
Karon Dawson, who has only been helping in the last year, since she retired from teaching, agrees.
“I really think I get more out of it than they do.
“People have amazing stories to share and really appreciate having someone to listen.”
Her husband has been a volunteer driver for a lot longer and, apart from her doing sessions at the centre, together they take a group of intellectually disabled teenagers bowling each week.
“They just love it, and it gives them an opportunity to get out an about.”
Peter Holen began by using the Blue Haven’s services as a client seven years ago, before being asked if he wanted to join the team of volunteers five years ago.
He says of helping out with the men’s social group, “The guys get a lot of enjoyment out of it and so do we.”
Myriam Marchant, Blue Haven Care’s Volunteer Coordinator, says that while there are countless opportunities for people to volunteer their time and skills, the Council-run service is in particular need of people to drive minibuses, act as helpers on bus trips and visit people to provide social support on a one-on-one basis.
“It would be great if we could encourage more people to get involved.
“Whatever your interests are we’ve got some activity you could get involved with, from art and music to pet therapy and outings to shops.”
Most of the volunteers are in their sixties and seventies, but ages range from mid-thirties to mid-eighties.
“We also have High School students come up as visitors to the Aged Care Home,” says Ms Marchant.
Details: To find out more contact Myriam Marchant on 4203 4055 or via firstname.lastname@example.org