“We pretty much just fell into volunteering,” Desley said during Volunteer Week. “I was visiting a friend and Charmaine asked if I would visit someone else as well. Doug kind of just got ‘dragged along’.”
Desley has a long history of volunteering. She grew up the daughter of a Rotarian in a Christian family, and they were taught to give back to the community and make it a better place for everyone.
“For us, the Christian principles of loving, respecting and caring were just the way life was for our family,” she said.
“My Dad, especially, was a very church and community-minded man.”
Today, Doug and Desley volunteer for a number of different reasons.
“A very large part of it is how good it makes us feel to give pleasure to someone else,” Desley said.
“There are some truly amazing people living in aged care. They have had fantastic and interesting lives sometimes, and sometimes they are just lovely people to know. And they are so very grateful for your care and attention. It makes you feel really good.”
Desley says that as retirees, it could be so easy to just vegetate and in due course feel no longer useful or needed. But volunteering gives them a sense of purpose, a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and a feeling of being needed, loved and appreciated.
Even while COVID-19 restrictions were in force, Doug and Desley kept up their friendships, albeit at a distance.
They built a fish tank and stocked it with goldfish and installed it in their garden, ran a raffle with the help of a local business, helped from outside the facility to run "The Monto Show Day", and produced numerous letters, signs, banners and patchwork quilts to keep in touch with their friends.
“It's a feeling of being valuable in someone else's life.” Desley said. “And, believe me, there is nothing better than feeling needed, loved and wanted."
"We love our Timber Time group. The camaraderie around the table when all the ladies have paint on their hands, and the men are chucking off at them, and we are laughing at something funny or someone's memory of other times, makes something we all treasure.
“Also the pleasure we all get when we look at the Christmas and Easter decorations that we have made together and the folks are so proud of, and the joyful greetings from so many when we walk into the room. The lovely, handmade thank-you cards they sent us in Seniors Week will be treasured forever.”
Desley has the perfect advice for people thinking about becoming a volunteer.
“Everyone has a choice - whether to be a user or a giver. If you are a user, you live in a community, make use of what is offered, but do not contribute or give anything of yourself. If you are a giver, you'll be run off your feet. Too busy to be lonely. Too valuable to be overlooked or forgotten.”
If you're not sure how to begin, she offers this advice:
“Anything that interests you interests someone else. Find that someone else and you have made a friend. Friends are very precious. You can't have enough of them,“ she said.
“Volunteering in an aged care facility is probably the most rewarding job either Doug or I have ever had, or are ever likely to have.”
Call IMPACT’s Community Visitors Scheme Program Coordinator Heather Hinsbey on 0448 035 891 or 07 4153 4233.