Simon was a former In Great Company Volunteer Coordinator for over a year, and in that time he came to really appreciate the work he was doing – especially when it comes to creating connections for lonely seniors.
What’s your name?
I’m Simon Ferris, Volunteer Coordinator for ACT, VIC and TAS.
What’s your background in life and in work?
I grew up in the northern beaches of Sydney and have a wide variety of work experiences from taxi driving to business development manager for a nutritional supplement company that allowed me to travel the world, but always wanted to get involved with community work. I have been with Feros Care for over 6 years after relocating to the north coast, and my favourite role has been working as a volunteer coordinator for the past year!
Do you have any interesting episode when you were working as taxi driver?
I was living in Orange with my parents during mid 90s. There is no work there except taxi driving so I completed the course and became a taxi driver. One day one of the taxi vehicles was stolen so I was chasing him up with a police car. We chased
him around the golf course then caught him in the end, but it was a very interesting night.
Which countries did you visit when you were working as business development manager?
I was working as a business development manager for 10 years travelling around the world. The company’s head office was at Dallas in Texas. I had to have sales meetings there and had to travel to the Caribbean, Fiji, China, Malaysia, Singapore,
New Zealand and Australia.
After 10 years of travelling life, I decided to live in Byron Bay for 3 years then found work with Feros Care.
What are some of your hobbies and interests?
My father was an opera singer and music teacher, so music was big in our house. I studied music in Lismore and have played bass guitar in various bands for around 30 years. I also love golf, the ocean, so body boarding, snorkelling, stand up paddle boarding – anything to do with the water! I am also a sci-fi and history geek, especially ancient history.
What motivates you to get going every day?
Being fortunate enough to live near the Gold Coast, and my 5-year-old son inspires me every day with his curiosity and wonderment of the world. He reminds me to “be the child” and not to lose that part of yourself that makes you
curious about the world around you – my father used to say “a day you haven’t learned something is a day wasted.”
What is the most recent exciting event or news?
I suppose starting to play music again with a group of friends has been good for the soul. Being involved in seeing and hearing of the great relationships forming between my volunteers and clients. When a match goes well it warms the heart and reminds me what a special role I have.
Can you tell us about one of volunteer-client matches you made?
I facilitated the match between Janette volunteer and her client Tina.
I received an application from a lovely volunteer to visit Tina, a senior client who was keen for an Italian speaking volunteer. They also had a lot in common, like they both love growing veggies in their garden, comparing home-cooked Italian recipes and taking walks when the weather is nice. On one of their walks, Tina was able to meet a long-time neighbour, whom she hadn’t seen for a while. It was a really lovely experience for Janette too because she could interpret their conversation and help them have a wonderful time reconnecting.
Can you please share with us one of your memorable moments or stories from the past?
I have been involved in many charity music events over the years for causes like The Salvation Army and Beyond Blue, etc. However, I think one of the moments that stands out for me is when soccer legend Tim Cahill turned up at an event and
donated around an hour of his time signing autographs constantly whilst we were playing on stage. Thankfully he was able to save one for me before getting writer’s cramp! He was a really great guy!
Any last words or thoughts?
Giving back to others as well as making a difference in someone’s life no matter how small, all add up to becoming the best version of yourself as a person. I recommend volunteering in whatever capacity you can as you may think an hour for a cup of tea and a chat isn’t much, but to someone who is lonely, and has no family or friends left, it can mean the world!