In a bustling world, where life often moves at a relentless pace, the quiet moments of companionship can shine the brightest. Meet volunteer Debbie, a mother, and a grandmother who describes her story, a heart-warming reminder that a few hours of genuine companionship can weave threads of hope, warmth, and friendship into the lives of those who need it most.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a mother of 2 grown children who have blessed me with 7 grandchildren, 3 girls and 4 boys between the ages of 18 and 5 months, who fill my world with so much love, but they don’t plan on giving me anymore.
I’m single with 2 fur babies, and they are happy to see me when I come home from work. I have worked many jobs, but I have loved and enjoyed working in Aged Care for over 10 years, as a foster carer for 7 years, and then found my passion in disabilities, supporting people in their homes. I have done this for nearly 20 years, and I have so much time for babies, the young, the disabled, and the elderly, as they need support and understanding in their lives.
How did you get involved with In Great Company?
I saw a post on Facebook asking for volunteers and felt I could spend some time with an older person. I know that many aged people live in their homes and don’t get to see many people as they may not have family nearby.
What attracted you to the cause or why do you volunteer with seniors facing loneliness and isolation?
I’m lucky that I have siblings who live close to my mother and help her with her appointments, shopping, and taking her to visit friends, as she no longer drives and is 86.
Depending on my schedule, I visit my mother every week and sometimes more often. I would hate to think that many people have very lonely lives if not for family. I believe that by spending time with someone, I can give that person something to look forward to each week.
Did anything or anyone in your life play a role in providing inspiration for your involvement with lonely seniors?
My grandmother played a big part in my life, teaching me how to knit, crochet, and sew, and I enjoyed spending time with her as she always had great stories to tell me.
While working in Aged Care, I would spend quality time with the residents listening to their stories as they all had incredible lives and comparing today. Life was much harder during their time.
Who do you visit and what do your visits involve?
I visit Ruth, who is 85 young every Monday, and we go out to Pittsworth Women’s Shed, where we sew fabric together to make quilts.
I have gotten Ruth interested in doing what she had done many years ago. Watching her get involved in what she is working on is great.
We started by spending a couple of hours having morning tea with the ladies, and now we spend nearly 5 hours there every week. I had spent other times with Ruth when she had an injury with her shoulder going to her home and having afternoon tea.
Can you tell us what makes this friendship special for you?
Ruth is lovely, we are never lost for words, and we laugh a lot. I have learned about her life, how she raised her children, where she lived, and how her family now supports her.
It is excellent to share my grandchildren with her and listen to how she talks of her family and grand and great-grandchildren. Ruth is proud of how her children have gotten on in life, and now she awaits another great-grandchild to be born later in the year.
Have you had any challenges along your volunteer journey?
I have only been seeing Ruth for a couple of months, but she has impacted me as I no longer have my grandmother, who is the same age as my mother. I find that I enjoy her company and that my visiting her is getting her out of the house and spending time with me and others.
Do you have an experience shared with your senior client that really moves you?
Ruth has found out that her daughter is very sick, and I know she is very worried about her, but with us being able to talk about it, I think it helps her. I’ve had the ladies make her daughter some turbans, and they are bright, so I wear 1 as well so she is familiar with them for when her daughter comes home from the hospital.
Have you learnt anything about yourself or others through this experience?
I have always wanted to give time to others when I get older. I would hope to think that there will be someone out there who would do the same for me. I live by the theory of paying it forward, and by doing this, I am making a difference in others’ lives.
What do you think it’s important to volunteer by visiting older people in need of friendship?
Giving my time to others gives me so much pleasure knowing that the time I spend with them is not wasted.
Do you have a message to share with others looking to become a friendly visitor volunteer?
Volunteering is the best thing I could do for another person, and it gives them a new person to share their life with. I highly recommend it to anybody who can put aside a few hours each week and commit to that time, as it is so valuable to the person you will be visiting, and it is rewarding for yourself. Give it a try; you may like it..