Volunteering: the human spirit at work


National Volunteer Week News Story
CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta Blacktown Neighbour Aid Volunteer Margaret Dwyer (left) with Vincenza Grunsell.

National Volunteer Week (NVW) - the largest celebration of volunteers and volunteerism in Australia - is being celebrating from 9 to 15 May, providing an opportunity to highlight the role of volunteers in our communities and to say thank you to the more than five million Australians who volunteer each year.

The theme for NVW 2011 - 'Inspiring the Volunteer in You' - aims to raise awareness of the role of volunteers and encourage more people to consider volunteering themselves.

Volunteering Australia CEO Cary Pedicini said that volunteers make a critical contribution to Australian society and that NVW is the ideal time for organisations and the community to thank volunteers for their dedication.

“Volunteers are very high profile during significant disasters, but there are also many millions more who volunteer but are seldom recognised,” Cary said.

“National Volunteer Week is our chance to salute all volunteers and say thank you for the work they do to make Australia a better place to live.”

The recently released National Survey of Volunteering Issues found that being accepted as a valuable team member was the most frequently mentioned form of recognition that volunteers said was most important to them feeling valued.

Friendship, trust, respect and admiration

One group quietly working to help our local community are the volunteers at Blacktown Neighbour Aid, a program managed by CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta which which assists frail aged people, people with a disability and their carers who are living within the Blacktown Local Government Area.

Blacktown Neighbour Aid Acting Manager Peter Michaelis said this community-based service assisted consumers and their carers to remain living independently in their own homes rather than an institution.

“We endeavour to complement other services, including family and friends, by providing a trained volunteer who offers one-on-one practical assistance, social support and companionship,” Peter explained.

“Our volunteers may simply visit an elderly person’s home and have a weekly chat or take them shopping. These dedicated volunteers are much loved and appreciated.”

Margaret Dwyer has been a Blacktown Neighbour Aid volunteer for the past six years. Margaret described her role as a two-way relationship based on four words: friendship, trust, respect and admiration. 

She makes weekly visits to Vincenza Grunsell, who arrived in Australia from Malta in 1949 and is now 85 years of age, living alone and very proudly Australian.

“Vincenza suffers from chronic arthritis and is in constant pain but she never complains. We have a rapport and I’ve learnt from her positive outlook on life,” Margaret said.

“She accepts things as they are and she has a great sense of humour. I’ve learnt to be a little less selfish and feel a sense of accomplishment by helping Vincenza put her shopping list together and taking her shopping.”

Peter Michaelis said the success of a volunteer program depends on ‘an invisible but tangible spirit of cooperation and value in human beings working together’.

“That’s the spirit of Blacktown Neighbour Aid’s team of volunteers, which we celebrate during National Volunteer Week and will hopefully inspire the volunteer in others,” Peter said.

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with Blacktown Neighbour Aid, please contact Peter Michaelis by calling 02 8822 2238.

Read more about Blacktown Neighbour Aid volunteers at Catholic Outlook

Visit CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta

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