National Volunteer Week (May 15-21) recognises the vital support that the millions of volunteers in Australia provide to their communities and encourages people to consider volunteering.
The theme this year is The Change Makers.
Volunteers play an important role at Greenwood Cottage, a Commonwealth Home Support program (CHSP) that is run by The Benevolent Society for older people aged 65 years and over in the St George area.
It provides an opportunity for clients to attend and participate in social interactions and structured group activities to feel socially included and maintain independent living.
It’s a safe, friendly environment for older people to connect, interact and create memories together. A CHSP referral code from My Aged Care is required to access the program.
“Volunteers are the heart and soul of Greenwood Cottage,” says Support Coordinator, Cherie Damoulakis. “We couldn’t run the centre without them.”
“We offer a variety of social and community activities,” Cherie says. “These include outings such as museum and art gallery visits and fishing trips; guest speakers; gentle exercise; mind-stimulating activities including games, arts and crafts; and annual events and celebrations.”
More Volunteers Needed
While Greenwood currently has about nine volunteers, more people are needed to continue the great work the centre does in supporting older people in the community.
“We’d love to have about 15 volunteers ideally,” Cherie says. “We’d strongly encourage anyone considering a volunteering role to just do it! It’s so rewarding.
“Volunteering is a great way to stay connected, find purpose and refresh or learn new skills. At Greenwood, it’s mainly about socialising with our clients; talking with them.”
A Real Community
Sandra has been volunteering at Greenwood since March 2020 and recently spoke to the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader. Her late mother Audrey used to attend the centre before she passed.
“I became a volunteer at Greenwood because I wanted to be around people with dementia or early onset. I felt a great affinity and closeness to them which came from looking after my mum who had dementia,” she says.
Sandra (pictured second from left) with fellow volunteers, Monica, Cora and Flora.
Sandra says it’s incredibly fulfilling meeting new people.
“Volunteering gives you a new lease on life, knowing you are helping someone - kindness and understanding can make clients feel safe and happy,” she says.
Clients not only benefit from the social interaction, volunteers also find it incredibly rewarding. “We’re a real community here,” says Cherie. “Often as you get older a lot of your friends move out of the area, pass away unfortunately, so often you’re not given the opportunity to meet new people so when you volunteer you get given a whole new circle of friends.”
Greenwood Cottage is located in Bexley and is open 4 days per week Monday-Wednesday and Fridays from 10am-2pm.
If you’re interested in volunteering at Greenwood Cottage, contact 02 9508 4800 to speak to Cherie. For more information about the Greenwood Cottage Service, ring 1800 236 762.