2021 is the year that so many of us have been waiting for; a fresh start on the calendar with 12 months of possibilities of doing the things you’ve been waiting to do, or uncover all-new adventures and make new friends along the way.
If one of your goals is to become happier or more connected with the local community in the new year, we have the perfect way to give back or support those in need. Volunteering with In Great Company unlocks endless benefits, resulting in you getting
back even more than you put in.
Here are six reasons to sign up as a volunteer in 2021, and how to go ahead and do so.
1. It makes a true difference in the community
In Great Company has a mission to try and ensure that no one ever feels lonely. By connecting those in need of support and social connection with those who are willing to assist, it provides a great service to those in society who are often most vulnerable.
It’s not always easy to ask a friend for a hand, or to reach out and admit that you need help. But it’s amazing what some compassion can do to further the power of connection.
Take John’s story as an example. 90-year-old John spent 30 Christmases alone before he was connected with In Great Company; now, despite his limited mobility, he is able to enjoy Christmas at one of Feros Care’s residential villages and
has a volunteer, Michelle, visit him every week.
“It’s like all of us, we all need company and a bit of a laugh,” Michelle says. “It’s very important for our elderly people. I call him a mate now, I just love calling on him. He’s a joy.”
2. It can be incredibly varied
Your volunteering role might depend on your choice of area, along with some unique skills you may be able to bring to the table. You might be doing anything from providing help with tidying, reorganising, gardening and cooking in the home, to running
errands with someone and accompanying them to appointments.
You can also be involved in working behind-the-scenes of the volunteer scene with administrative work, or going directly to residential villages to provide social support and company to multiple residents. You might even just like to hang out and listen
to music with someone, or play cards over a cup of tea. It’s all a possibility.
Along the way, you’ll be able to share your valued skills, hear some life-changing living history stories and even share a hobby or interest that you might be passionate about, whether it’s motorcycles, books, baking or anything in between.
3. It can give you a different perspective on life
This includes valuable stories of the ups and downs; the challenges they’ve tackled, the world events they have lived through, the complicated families, the migrations, the business challenges, the losses, the loves and so much more.
One volunteer, Roz Kulken, explains. “For some elderly, life can be lonely as you get older, the days seem longer, and you can’t do the things you used to do. They always look forward to a volunteer visiting, having a cuppa, having a chat,
sharing memories and photos, and even an outing when it suits them.”
“During their lifetime they would have experienced the full range of human emotions to varying degrees, and don’t mind sharing their memories of the joyful or sad times, their most important accomplishments, the experiences that made them
feel most alive, each of them telling and teaching something significant from their life experiences,” Roz adds.
You might even find a newfound appreciation for life in the process, and learn some incredible tips for remaining resilient through the face of everything that may be thrown your way.
4. It – very simply – makes you happier!
Research shows that one of the best ways to feel joyful and more fulfilled is by being more connected to the neighbourhood in which you live, increasing social bonds along the way and unlocking a feel-good ‘buzz’!
Many people are drawn to volunteering after grief and loss, and find themselves feeling significantly better thanks to the connections they make along the way.
There’s no better evidence of that than 88-year-old Kevin, who is a carpenter and mechanic by trade. At the age of 82, after his wife of 56 years passed away, he signed up to be a volunteer in the Feros Care community and became somewhat of a local
celebrity specialising in driving other members of the community around.
After six years in the volunteering gig, Kevin retired and locked in his very own volunteer, Andrew – who signed up for volunteering after losing both his mother and younger sister in quick succession.
“I needed people to talk to, and wanted to get back into the community and give back to the community,” Andrew explains. “It’s about giving back, and I tell you what, I get a lot more out of it than even the people that I meet.
I get their stories, and everyone’s got an interesting story.”
If you’re feeling lonely, or reeling after a loss, there can be no better way to search for meaning once again and get used to socialising with the people who need it most.
5. It may advance your career – or improve your resume
It’s just an amazing additional benefit that you can meet new people and make friends along the way!
6. We fit in with your schedule
Whether you’re retired with a whole lot of newfound spare time and looking to give back to the community, you’re a working professional that needs to volunteer outside the regular 9 to 5, or you’re a student that’s hoping to work
around their university or TAFE hours – there’s something to suit you.