Anne Bolan has been a Red Cross volunteer for over 10 years and is still giving hand massages to others as part of her work.
Anne Bolan has been a Red Cross volunteer for over 10 years and is still giving hand massages to others as part of her work.

Rewarding way to make someone's day

Without volunteers, there would be lots of lonely people in aged care facilities, bushfires wouldn’t be fought and op shops would probably have to close. Volunteers play such an important role in our communities that everything from essential services to charities and not-for-profit organisations would struggle to survive without them.

This week is National Volunteer Week and the services of volunteers around the nation are being celebrated.

Jeannette Tyler, the coordinator of Volunteering Northern Rivers at the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre, has been helping place volunteers for many years and is always looking for more people who have time to volunteer.

“Volunteers are invaluable in many of our nursing homes and aged care facilities,” Ms Tyler said. “The staff at these places can be marvellous, but often they don’t have enough time to do some of the little things that make such a difference for the residents...sitting down for a good one-on-one chat, bringing in their dog to socialise...these are just a few ways volunteers make a big difference in our community.”

Volunteering can be an important pathway into the paid workforce. Whether you are fresh out of school, out of work or studying, you can gain experience in the workplace and maintain your skills while volunteering. Older people who have retired can share their skills with others and act as mentor.

Retired school teacher Anne Bolan has been volunteering with the Red Cross for 10 years, and the Palliative and Cancer Care Units at St Vincent’s and Lismore Base Hospital for five years.

Anne took up volunteering after she retired and moved back to Lismore after 37 years living in Sydney. She said she was attracted to volunteering for the Red Cross because she believed it was important to give back to the community.

“I loved my years of teaching, but in the back of my mind I’d always had a yearning to be a doctor. I’ve never regretted my decision to volunteer, it has been so rewarding and many times inspirational,” she said.

Anne says one of her favourite things is breezing into the male patients’ ward and cheerily asking who would like a hand massage.

“The more elderly patients are often surprised and a little bit suspicious,” Anne said. “but I joke along with them and tell them it’s an experience they’ll never forget ... trust me! Most times they do, and then they enjoy it so much they’re a bit sad if they won’t be there when I come back the following week. I always walk away feeling good, and I hope I leave them feeling the same way.”

Visit the website www.govolunteer.com.au to get an idea of the types of volunteer positions available and where they are located, or you can call Jeannette at Volunteering Northern Rivers on 6621 7397 to see how you can help.

At the moment, more volunteer bus drivers are needed for Northern Rivers Community Transport. If you can help them out, phone 6628 6000.


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