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OCAV recognises ‘priceless’ volunteers
May 18, 2019
National Volunteer Week 2019
Kim D’Angelis, OCAV’s Volunteer Coordinator, finds it difficult to put a dollar value on the organisation’s 190 volunteers.
“Our volunteers are priceless. Their contribution to this organisation and to the residents is enormous. It’s not just their hours of service, but the impact of that service,” Kim said.
“Their presence, week after week, means that a lot of people who might live pretty isolated lives, have a friend, someone they share their story with. It means that we can provide all sorts of extra activities and it means we can help people live the fullest lives that they can.”
“Our volunteers truly are making a world of difference, the theme for National Volunteer Week this year.”
OCAV’s 190 volunteers come from the four villages and the wider community. At Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility at St Helena, the 95 mostly external volunteers provide myriad services supporting staff to run the men’s group, art classes, bingo, happy hour, pet visits, walks, social outings, sing-alongs, games, art and craft, cooking demonstrations, religious services, and current affairs discussions – just to name a few.
While many of OCAV’s volunteers are recent retirees, the age range is vast. The youngest volunteer is a 15-year-old student who helps residents in our dementia wing, and the oldest volunteer is 95 who looks after the house bound library books.
The average time a volunteer stays with OCAV is just over five years.
Each of the villages has an ‘army’ of resident volunteers who run the Residents and Activities Committees and who provide an extraordinary level of support to other residents.
Kim said there are at least 30 residents across the four villages who regularly take other residents to appointments, shopping, the library and to meet up with former residents.
“Having these people willing to do this is amazing because it involves so much more than just dropping someone at the doctors. In many cases our resident volunteers will take another resident to the hospital, find parking, go in with them, wait and bring them home. These people don’t even think of this as a big contribution, but OCAV does and we are very grateful for this sense of community which has been built,” Kim said.
Kim believes that one of the most important aspects of volunteering is the capacity of the volunteer to make social connections and keep the residents in touch with the community that they were once a part of.
“We make it very clear to volunteers during orientation that they are coming into someone’s home. That means they will become a part of a person’s life and that is a very important role,” Kim said.
Choosing volunteers for activities is largely driven by the residents who make a request or identify a need. Kim said a Rushall Park resident who is organizing several outings recently requested a volunteer driver and one was soon found, keeping the costs of the event to a minimum.
Kim uses local advertising outlets to find volunteers as well as Seek.Com, which offers a volunteer platform free for not-for-profit organisations. Once people volunteer, Kim works with them to find a role that will be satisfying to both parties.
“Volunteering works when it is seen as a two-way arrangement. It works well when the volunteers feel respected and when their skills and years of life experience are valued. We certainly value our volunteers and we thank them.”
Kim’s Current Volunteer Wish list. She is looking for a volunteer to:
· play the piano to accompany the choir at Rushall Park in North Fitzroy.
· provide social support for residents in our nursing home.
· paint ladies fingernails at Liscombe House in St Helena.
Diversional therapist Adrian Onofrio couldn’t be happier that some lucky timing led him to Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility. “This job is about working with people and I know that each day I might make a difference to just one person.