In Great Company recognises the need of service that puts its clients first and creates a real difference in the lives of people and those volunteering their time to give back. We sat down with Melissa, and asked her about her experience with her companion
Why did you decide to register for the In Great Company companionship program? What did your weeks look like before you started the program?
My grandmother-in-law suffered from dementia and received full time care, but she was still an independent woman who made it a priority to look after herself. I am a hairdresser by trade and would go into the nursing home to do my grandmother-in-law’s nails and hair. Although she wouldn’t remember or know who I was, I felt as though in some way she knew we were connected. During this time, I also grew to know a number of the other residents and was also invited to local events at the nursing home. It really bought a sense of fulfillment in my life. I love being around elderly people.
Prior to volunteering, my primary focus was my children and husband, however as my children grew, then moved out for university, and with my husband working full time, I was searching for something to be able to give back to others.
More recently, I was in the position where I did not have to work and was searching for something to fill a gap in my life. A friend of mine recommended applying with In Great Company, so I did. The companionship program that In Great Company offers is quite unique from other volunteering programs. I enjoy the aspect that I am building a relationship with one person and giving them the one-on-one time that they deserve. The volunteer journey has been great, very simple and easy.
Tell us a bit about your volunteer companions. How often do you meet? What activities do you do together?
I meet with my two companion clients weekly.
With one of my companion clients, Ann, we enjoy a variety of activities from going to the Runaway Bay Shopping Centre to try coffee at various cafes to watching mystery and crime movies at my in-home movie theatre. We hit it off right away. Most visits feature long chats and on occasion I also do Ann’s hair and nails.
Ann, tell us more about Melissa and what you enjoy about her company?
Melissa is a kind, caring woman who is a breath of fresh air. We have both declared a strong and immediate kinship for each other.
And Melissa, tell us how has your life changed since meeting Ann? What are you most proud of?
Ann is a very energetic and strong-minded woman who knows what she wants. She is very delightful, and I feel privileged that she wants to share her life with me. We have had many adventures. It is the best feeling to know that you make a difference in someone’s life. I am having fun thinking up new places to go each week, and the absolute certainty is that they all involve coffee and my little dog Daisy. Ann adores her. I am so proud that Ann feels comfortable and confident to suggest activities she enjoys while also extending invitations to me to attend personal dinners at her Probus Club. It has been so special.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I realise now how vulnerable elderly people can feel isolated and alone. I hope that through volunteering with In Great Company I can make a difference in the lives of the elderly and give back to the local community, my family and myself. It is so important for me to give back, so I feel a sense of fulfillment within myself.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in the In Great Company companionship program?
Go for it! As I move through my volunteering journey with In Great Company it is something that I talk about and enjoy more and more.