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Liam learns about life first hand
December 9, 2016
For someone who wants to be a history academic Liam Nixon is getting some invaluable grass roots learning at OCAV’s Leith Park village. As a volunteer he regularly hears about what life was like in Australia in the mid 20th century from those who have lived through it. He soaks up the stories and enjoys his time with the people who have survived so much and who still have so much to offer the community.
Liam has just completed the second year of an Arts Degree, majoring in history, at La Trobe University in Bundoora. A self-confessed history buff he wants to pursue a career as a history academic specialising in modern European history.
Liam began volunteering at Leith Park’s Liscombe House after doing a two-week stint as part of the St Helena Secondary College’s work experience program when he was 15. Since then he has been volunteering in the diversional therapy area of the aged care facility each fortnight or whenever his university schedule allows. Sometimes during term break he goes a few times a week. He is welcome whenever he goes.
For Liam, who grew up with limited contact with his own grandparents who lived overseas, developing relationships with older people has been a luxury that has made life richer. He loves his time at Leith Park and has made some good friends over the years.
“Volunteering there has had a big impact on me and I think it is the same for the residents I have got to know. After my first two weeks of work experience it just felt right to keep volunteering,” Liam said.
He slots in wherever he is needed and with whoever needs him. This might mean helping someone get to bingo and sitting with them so that they can keep up with the numbers being called. Or it might also mean sitting with some residents in the community room during quiz games to help them follow along.
While many older people report feeling undervalued and ignored by the community Liam protests otherwise. He enjoys hearing the stories people want to share and gaining an insight into a life that was lived long before he came along.
“We should listen to what older people have to say because they have so much to teach us. So many of the people at Leith Park have achieved so much. Even though they may be deteriorating physically and psychologically this does not diminish who they were or what their life has been and is,” Liam said.
One of the difficulties for Liam is watching some of the people he has grown fond of deteriorate and die, though he recognises it as a very natural part of life, one that everyone will confront. It has helped him deal with mortality, something many people, especially those in the ‘prime of their life’ ignore. “Seeing people I am fond of die, makes me realise even more that I need to make the most of my time with them.”
Caption: Liam spends time with resident Margaret Pepper.
Pete Zawacki drove to Leith Park twice a week to visit his mother, Helen, until her death a year ago. After she died he wanted to honour her memory and ‘repay’ the kindness staff showed her by volunteering.Read More