There’s a lot of talk about volunteering and just how life-changing it can be. But while we know it can have hugely positive benefits on people in need – how about the positive impacts associated with simply being a volunteer?
Heather and Gladys are the perfect example, having been matched through our In Great Company volunteer program 12 months ago – and hitting it off ever since.
WHEN HEATHER MET GLENYS…
Like many seniors, Heather was lonely. With very limited mobility and few visitors, her day-to-day often proved to be isolating, monotonous, and lacking the ‘sparkle’ she craved.
About one year ago, Heather found out about In Great Company, a free volunteer program designed to connect seniors in our community with friendly, enthusiastic volunteers. Heather was placed with volunteer Glenys, and Heather says they liked each other “immediately”.
“We have many similarities so there’s always lots to talk about and laugh about, and that’s so important for someone in my situation.”
WHEN GLENYS MET HEATHER…
Glenys had always planned to volunteer when the time was right, so when she retired and her circumstances changed, she took the plunge.
Glenys’ account of the day they met reflects Heather’s sentiments.
“One of the very first things she said to me when I asked her a question was ‘that will be fine love’, and that gave me a good giggle because we’re similar ages, and no-one else our age – or any age actually – calls
This instant connection paved the way for a special friendship which has continued to flourish and provide life-changing rewards for both women.
COMPANIONSHIP AND IMPROVED MENTAL WELLBEING FOR BOTH PARTIES
Heather and Glenys describe strikingly similar benefits from the program. Companionship is a huge standout for Heather, highlighting the feelings of comfort she experiences from Glenys’ visits.
“It’s so nice because we can really talk and sometimes, it’s the best thing you can do.”
Glenys is also quick to emphasise how much she enjoys the company, and how grateful she is for finding a new friend. Now that she’s retired, visiting Heather breaks up her day, provides an opportunity to socialise, and keeps her mind active.
“It benefits us both for many of the same reasons,” says Glenys. “Sharing thoughts, experiences and fears helps validate and ease your own concerns and fears of the unknown.”
Both women have worked in nursing homes and understand all too well the affect loneliness can have on a person.
“Bad things can happen when you don’t have someone to share things with so by us simply having conversations, it helps ward off the likes of anxiety, depression and dementia.”
THE WARM AND FUZZIES
Glenys also describes the intrinsic rewards she gains from volunteering, and the ‘feel good factor’ associated with being part of the program.
“Doing something that people are thankful for and knowing that you are making a difference in somebody’s life is extremely rewarding.”
“It also provides a sense of purpose and added direction which is motivating and makes you feel good.”
Further to this, Heather asked Glenys to write a book about her life to pass down to her family, which adds another dimension to Glenys’ sense of purpose. There are also plenty of gratifying stories to tell about her time with Heather. One in particular brings a huge smile to her face.
“Heather asked me to alter the hem on a nighty that was too long, and on another that was too short. So, I took the fabric from the long one and attached it to the short one! She was so appreciative that I was greeted with a huge bunch of
beautiful flowers which was really heart-warming.”
VOLUNTEER PROGRAM ADVICE FROM HEATHER AND GLENYS
What do both Heather and Glenys have to say to anyone considering signing up for the program themselves, or contemplating becoming a volunteer?
The response was an immediate, unanimous, and enthusiastic: just do it.
In Great Company is seeking volunteers interested in helping keep seniors socially connected with their already vibrant local communities and live bolder lives!
The role includes:
- A laugh, a chat, and giving purpose to someone’s life through fun, friendly social visits to a senior client in their own home, offering a listening ear or a helping hand for easy tasks around their home or garden.
- Helping a senior connect to their community by ensuring reliable and safe transport, and accompanying them to exciting events and outings.
- Sharing interests and hobbies, be it cards, crafting, or cooking, and make a difference in someone’s life.