This week we celebrate National Volunteer Week (May 17 – 23). At The Benevolent Society we have more than 180 volunteers contributing their time and energy to supporting people and communities. It’s our privilege to share one of their stories. 

Joining Meals on Wheels 

Bob and Mary have been volunteering for our Meals on Wheels program on the Northern Beaches of Sydney for nearly four years. 

Following their retirement at the end of 2017, the couple decided to invest their newly found time into helping their local community. They first began volunteering at a local nursing home, where Bob would drive the residents to outings on the bus and Mary assisted with garden work and craft activities. 

“It was during this time that we heard about the valuable work done by the Meals on Wheels organisation from a friend, and wanted to do our part,” said Mary. “It seemed like a right fit for us.”

Bob and Mary got in contact with Meals on Wheels and began delivering meals to vulnerable people in their community shortly thereafter. 

“The friendly staff in the office are also a contributing factor to why we started volunteering and the training and support made the task easy and more enjoyable,” Mary explains. “We have always been made to feel valued and appreciated.” 

Meal deliveries during COVID 19 

During the COVID 19 pandemic, Bob and Mary stepped-up their shifts to daily meal deliveries to people in need. 

“Many clients were quite apprehensive about whether they would receive meals and also whether the meals would be safe to consume,” Mary explains. 

“The Meals on Wheels team at the Northern Beaches did a remarkable and commendable job of ensuring that all volunteers were appropriately trained and prepared for the difficult times ahead. It was always done with a smile and a word of encouragement.”

A smiling photo of Mary and Bob standing together
A smiling Bob & Mary

What drives Mary and Bob to thrive in their Volunteering roles

They both acknowledge that it is very satisfying knowing that they are contributing to the care of others, and that seeing the smiles on the faces of clients when delivering their meals is a rewarding aspect of the role.  

“The personal interaction with the clients is the part we like the best as we do get to know them quite well,” says Bob. “We miss them when we don't deliver to them.”

“We have certainly become aware of what makes them happy, and their smiles show us how much they look forward to seeing us. We think it's more than just the food arriving that makes them smile – for some clients we are their only daily contact. It's the personal touch that we think is important in this role.”

“We always follow-up any issues that concern them and this reassures them that we care. Liaising with family members is occasionally part of the role too.”

Volunteering is invaluable

“Volunteering is a valuable aspect of life in a modern society as many families live quite far away from each other,” says Mary. 

“More and more older people need and want to remain in their own homes and maintain their independence. Therefore, Meals on Wheels and other volunteer groups are vital to ensure this can happen.”

“Personally, we don't think of volunteering as challenging as we find it so rewarding and
satisfying. We feel very lucky to be able to do this and always look forward to it.”

Thank you Bob and Mary for your incredible contributions to our volunteering team.

Click here if you would like to find out more about volunteering for Meals on Wheels.