‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ Mahatma Gandhi.
Volunteering allows you an opportunity to do good in the world, to give back, and to make a real difference. In aged care, volunteers offer the socially isolated companionship and connection, and in return, meaning and purpose are found.
Charlie has been visiting Julie for the last few months. A strong friendship has traversed a 57-year age difference, with the 18-year-old recent high school graduate visiting the 75-year residential aged care resident.
Fortnightly visits present opportunities to discuss a shared love of music, culture, books, gardens, the environment and Aboriginal history, which Charlie currently studies online.
Charlie's interest in volunteering in aged care came about after noticing his grandmother, who lives in Armidale, was struggling after his grandfather died unexpectedly.
‘Charlie was unable to visit his grandmother as much as he would like, so he wondered if there might be people living nearby who would like a friend, so we started to investigate,’ said Georgie, Charlie’s mother.
‘And we found Catholic Healthcare’s Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme.’
Catholic Healthcare’s volunteer coordinator, Niv Srivastava, and volunteer manager, Liz Faber, got the ball rolling with Charlie’s application and worked with Charlie’s choice of Bupa Willoughby.
Niv and Liz worked in partnership with Bupa Willoughby to find a resident who was interested in having a volunteer, and as Kismet would have it, Julie accepted, and it has been a meeting of minds ever since.
‘Charlie is highly intelligent, and his interest in history is an unusual choice for such a young man. He also enjoys music, and he has attended a music class with me, which he loved,’ said Julie.
‘We discuss films too, but I don’t share his passion for Marvel movies,’ she said laughingly.
Charlie, who lives with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, interacts with Julie via an iPad. He prepares for his visits with a list of considered questions and by researching a topic Julie has expressed interest in.
When asked what he enjoys most about his volunteer visits Charlie said, ‘Learning new things and Julie’s friendship’.
Charlie attends these visits with his support buddy, Paulina, with all three sharing a special bond.
‘Charlie is investigating jobs he could do post-school that would be meaningful and rewarding; however, his cerebral palsy and epilepsy means typical career avenues may not be the best fit,’ said Georgie.
‘Volunteering is shaping up to be a fantastic way to achieve purpose, contribute to his community and make good friends,’ she said.
If you are interested in becoming a Catholic Healthcare volunteer, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 225 474.