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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Feb-March 2012
Active RetireesTM | 29 feAtURe volunteering can continue into the future. “Volunteering connects us, strengthens our sense of belonging and creates positive relationships that build stronger local communities,” she explains. Bendigo local and avid volunteer David Wright agrees that volunteers are essential in a strong community. “As a former shire secretary and having worked in the public sector for most of my life, I have seen first hand how community spirit is built around volunteers,” he explains. No brain-drain here Back in Lismore, Pam Ashton has seen first hand how volunteer-led programs can reenergise local communities. As Lismore suffered a so-called ‘brain- drain’, with young people leaving for study and employment in capital cities, further challenges have emerged from the government’s push to settle ‘new Australians’ (migrants and refugees) in the area. Pam has been a sponsor for a Rwandan family settling in Lismore, and understood perfectly why the young men of the family quickly applied for their driver licences. “There’s little community transport around here, so getting a licence is essential for everyday living or for getting a job,” she explains. Watching as the young men struggled to find people to teach them to drive, Pam phoned a local program that was established to help teach drivers from disadvantaged backgrounds, but was told the program was no longer running. She set off for the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre and, by the end of the day, was the volunteer coordinator of the re-activated Volunteers on the Road scheme. Lending a hand comes naturally to Pam, and she sees it as a two-way street. “Volunteers are passionate people who get things going in their communities,” she says. “And it’s good for people to have a purpose.” So while Lismore benefits from the good work of Pam and her team of volunteers, they have quickly discovered that the driving lessons are doing more than filling a service gap. “Our learner drivers often come from places where you would hardly ever see a car. Their courage is remarkable. You get to share their happiness when they finally get their licence – they can’t help but dig into their pockets and pull them out the first time they see you in the street.” As Pam’s volunteering work shows, use of the term ‘brain-drain’ ignores the expertise of older community members, and the purported seriousness of ‘brain-drain’ overlooks the drive of passionate volunteers. Older gold Now retired, but ever active, Bendigo local David Wright has recently volunteered to coordinate Bendigo’s Golden Gurus. » Volunteering connects us, strengthens our sense of belonging and creates positive relationships that build stronger local communities. Why I volunteer Nora Vidler-Blanksby has been a volunteer all her life, and simply contemplating the activities she has participated in would exhaust most people. Nora is a registered Justice of the Peace, has provided counselling as a call attendant with Lifeline, donates blood regularly, participates in medical studies and provides support to the recently bereaved. Nora loves seeing how individuals gain confidence through volunteering. “People may think they don’t have a lot to give, but the little contributions make a big difference. ” Nora’s familiarity with the needs of volunteers has led her to a government-supported position as the coordinator of the Community Visitors’ Scheme in the Northern Rivers district of NSW. The scheme pairs volunteers with people in aged care facilities for fortnightly visits. Many of the participants have developed wonderful friendships. Nora’s experience volunteering for Lifeline and as a funeral celebrant means that she has the skills to provide expert advice and support to her volunteers. Secondly, the program is built on the concept that volunteers will benefit from their visits as much as the people they’re visiting. “Befriending an older person can extend someone’s life and make a difference in your own. You get a great sense of achievement and provide the touch or hug that prevents some of the negative health effects of loneliness.”
Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2012
Active Retirees April-May 2012