At In Great Company, we’re big believers in matching volunteers with seniors who have common interests, hobbies, and values, so that they can build a true friendship. A small amount of time as a volunteer can make a huge difference to the life
of a senior – but not everyone understands just how significant that impact can be.
In late January, one of our Hervey Bay volunteers, Helen Hansen, was interviewed by Rick Whittle from ABC Radio Wide Bay, who loves getting involved in the community, hearing and presenting great stories.
Together they talked about what drives her efforts in volunteering, and why she has benefited so much from the experience.
Here are Helen’s top 3 reasons why she continues to volunteer in the program.
1. It’s a wonderful way to give back to the community
Helen was first inspired to volunteer when she moved to Chinchilla, a rural town in Queensland. Her husband was working long hours as an engineer, and Helen – a people person who had let her career in human services go – was missing her interactions with friends and colleagues.
“I would be out and about in town and came across a number of seniors. They’d be out on their scooters or walking, and a simple smile and hello would really make all the difference,” Helen says. “And not just for them – me as well.”
Helen volunteered for an information centre in the area and started to gain an appreciation for just how lonely and isolated many people could be. Upon returning to Hervey Bay, she applied for the In Great Company program in an effort to give back and contribute to a positive environment for those who need it most.
“I saw an ad in the paper and liked the way it was worded, I liked the whole application process, it was easy,” Helen says.
2. You can develop a true and genuine friendship
Helen and Lorraine
were paired together – and both have been thrilled with the results. Even though Helen is now back at work, she always goes and spends half a day with Lorraine on her day off.
“We just hit it off, whoever matched us together really got a sense for who we both were. I’ve developed a mutual friendship with her,” Helen says.
They recently had a pamper day, where the two of them went and tested some make-up together and made Lorraine feel a million dollars. Helen has also managed to reunite Lorraine with her hairdresser, and
the two of them plan to get their hair done together soon.
They also love going to share a meal or drive to the beach. Lorraine loves simply being in the car and out and about.
“It’s like a summer holiday for her – the stimulation of going for a drive, enjoying a hot coffee,” Helen adds.
It has positive impacts on your own health and wellbeing
When Helen first met Lorraine, Lorraine had no means of getting out and about. She had surrendered her car licence, and spent her life at her dining room table, surrounded by the four walls of her home.
“Lorraine does have some contact with other people, but I appreciate that if I stepped away – she wouldn’t be able to do the things that really make a huge difference for her, like going to the
physio,” Helen explains.
“A number of years ago, I lost my late husband to leukemia. As his carer, I developed a real appreciation for what it’s like for people who are lonely and isolated.”
Helen emphasises that what many of us take for granted are an absolute luxury for our seniors – and it’s wonderful to be able to make such a significant difference in another person’s life.
“For every Lorraine, there are another 15 Lorraines,” she says. “It’s so important for others to be inspired to participate, and it’ll be the best thing you can do.
“I’ve said to Lorraine – I don’t ever want to let you down.”