Volunteer Photo
Volunteer Margaret Dwyer (left) with Vincenza Grunsell.
Inspiring the volunteer in you

Catholic Outlook, May 2011

National Volunteer Week is the week where all Australia is called upon to recognise and celebrate the role of volunteers in our communities. It’s an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for their efforts.

One such group of volunteers quietly dedicate their time for our local Blacktown Neighbour Aid, which is managed by CatholicCare Social Services – Parramatta and funded through the Home & Community Care Program.

Blacktown Neighbour Aid assists frail aged people, people with a disability and their carers, who are living within the Blacktown Local Government Area.  

Acting Manager Peter Michaelis said this community-based service assisted consumers and their carers to remain living independently in their own homes rather than an institution.

“We endeavour to complement other services, including family and friends, by providing a trained volunteer who offers one-on-one practical assistance, social support and companionship.

“Our volunteers may simply visit an elderly person’s home and have a weekly chat or take them shopping. These dedicated volunteers are much loved and appreciated.

Margaret Dwyer has been a Blacktown Neighbour Aid volunteer for the past six years. Margaret described her role as a two-way relationship based on four words: friendship, trust, respect and admiration. 

She makes weekly visits to Vincenza Grunsell who arrived in Australia from Malta in 1949 and is now 85 years of age, living alone and very proudly Australian.

“Vincenza suffers from chronic arthritis and is in constant pain but she never complains. We have a rapport and I’ve learnt from her positive outlook on life,” Margaret said.

“She accepts things as they are and she has a great sense of humour. I’ve learnt to be a little less selfish and feel a sense of accomplishment by helping Vincenza put her shopping list together and taking her shopping.”  Vincenza said she could trust Margaret and talk to her. “Everyone needs someone to talk to outside of family.

Wolfgang Henning also volunteers for Blacktown Neighbour Aid and offers companionship and friendship to an elderly gentleman who was devastated after the loss of his wife in 2009. “He was depressed and had no hope for the future,” said Wolfgang, who also lost his wife in 2009.

“Everyone handles their loss of a loved one differently. My volunteer role with Blacktown Neighbour Aid subtly helped me to cope with my own pain. We are now like friends. We take gentle walks together, sharing problems and joys.”

Wolfgang said he enjoyed volunteering because he could share his optimism for life and sense of humour. “I offer my service because it is rewarding. We learn from each other and I feel I can be of value,” he said.

Peter Michaelis reflects on a wise statement: ‘The success of a volunteer program depends on an invisible but tangible spirit of cooperation and value in human beings working together.’

“That’s the spirit of Blacktown Neighbour Aid’s team of volunteers, which we celebrate during National Volunteer Week and hopefully may inspire the volunteer in you.”

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with Blacktown Neighbour Aid please contact Peter Michaelis tel (02) 8822 2238.

Tags: BNA   Volunteer   CCSS

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