When Valetta Turner arrived in Wauchope two years ago as a 60-something retiree, she left behind a high powered corporate job in Sydney.
Finding herself in a new town, with nothing but time on her hands, the first thing she did to maintain her sanity was look for rewarding ways to spend her time.
“I struggled going from working 40 hours a week, to literally doing nothing, so while I explored my new home on the Mid-North Coast, I was also looking around to see who needed my help the most.
“I joined the team of very passionate volunteers at Bundaleer Care Services and the rest, as they say, is history.” Ms Turner reflects.
Bubbly and engaging by nature, Valetta found she had a natural rapport with residents of the Bundaleer Care Homes in both Cameron Street and Johnstone Street where she now dedicates four hours of her time twice a week.
“I love that every day is different. On any given day I could be helping the Lifestyle team and residents with activities like exercises, craft or gardening.
“Other days I might notice that a resident is having a particularly challenging day, so I’ll spend time with them and try to make them smile.
“Some days all it takes is holding someone’s hand and just being there, whereas other days we’ll take a trip down memory lane through conversations that allow them to recount a special moment in their lives.”
Developing friendships with Bundaleer residents is what keeps Valetta coming back week after week.
“My aim every day is to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Valetta.
“It’s amazing the difference you can make just by listening. It is definitely one of the most rewarding things I do and I would recommend it to anyone who has some spare time and is looking for a rewarding pastime.”
Valetta is one of more than 20 regular volunteers at Bundaleer who assist with daily activities that help residents have opportunities to be active, engaged and entertained.
Of course, not everyone is as naturally outgoing as Valetta, but there are still many other ways for volunteers to be involved at Bundaleer “behind the scenes”.
Valetta’s experience, and those of all Bundaleer volunteers mirrors that of the six million volunteers who make a profound impact in their communities every year across Australia.
And when you speak with the residents themselves, it doesn’t take long to understand how it is that volunteers make such an impact.
Billie Maurer arrived at Bundaleer Care Home in November last year and her favourite thing about volunteers is that they don’t treat her like she is old.
“I am older, of course, we all are in here, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t still like to have fun, chat, play games, do craft and be silly.
“When volunteers like Valetta mingle amongst us we build friendships and really get to know each other and that is wonderful.”
Ken Ritchie, Manager of People and Culture at Bundaleer believes that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of volunteers.
“Volunteers are amazingly generous and compassionate people, who genuinely care and want to help make a difference to the lives of those around them,” he says.
“We see the value of our volunteers every day, in the positive impact they have on our residents, some of whom live a long way away from their own family and friends.
The gift of time is incredibly powerful and it can quite literally transform someone’s life.Ken Ritchie, Manager of People and Culture
There really is a way for every volunteer to share their passions and skills to a willing audience.
Perhaps you are crafty or handy, maybe you love to perform or you just love to chat.
Whatever your speciality, there is a place for every volunteer to engage with Bundaleer residents and you can make a real difference in just an hour a week.
Of course, sometimes circumstances mean that it is just not possible to volunteer your time anymore.
At Bundaleer, those who are no longer able to continue volunteering are welcome to maintain their valuable connection with residents and the organisation by becoming one of the “Friends of Bundaleer”.
“Friends of Bundaleer” are welcomed and encouraged to continue visiting their friends in the care homes, attend events and activities and will receive a monthly magazine to stay up-to-date with what’s happening at Bundaleer.
While volunteering is largely known as a selfless act, for those sharing their time and talents to worthwhile causes the benefits can be great.
Research suggests that volunteering can have positive impacts on ones’ mental and physical health.
Volunteering can also reduce stress levels, provide a sense of purpose, promote an active lifestyle and connect volunteers with like-minded people in their communities.
Would you like to share in the experience of being one of Bundaleer’s cherished volunteers?
You are invited to afternoon tea and a discussion about the different ways volunteers can make a difference on Wednesday, June 6, 2018, from 3.30pm – 4.30pm at the Bundaleer Sweets and Treats café, 142a Cameron Street, Wauchope.
To register your interest, please RSVP by Thursday 31 May on 6585 2811.
If you would like to find out more about Bundaleer Care Services please visit www.bundaleer.org.au.