Give a lit­tle, change a lot

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

If you have con­sid­ered vol­un­teer­ing, would like to know more about an or­gan­i­sa­tion, or would en­joy shar­ing morn­ing tea with your fel­low vol­un­teers, then Na­tional Vol­un­teer Week from May 21 to 27 is for you. Vol­un­teer­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions across the Wim­mera-mallee will throw open their doors for a se­ries of ‘drop in’ events, with the week to also be punc­tu­ated by morn­ing teas, a bar­be­cue and vol­un­teer in­for­ma­tion ses­sions, and even a mini expo, in keep­ing with the 2018 theme of ‘Give a lit­tle. Change a lot’. Kick­ing off the week on the Mon­day, Wim­mera Re­gional Sports Assem­bly and Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion will host drop in ses­sions, aimed at open­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tions’ doors to their com­mu­ni­ties and high­light­ing how vi­tal vol­un­teer­ing is to their suc­cess. Tues­day will see Hor­sham Town Hall play host to a mini expo and morn­ing tea, while Har­row’s Bay Riders Com­mu­nity Cen­tre will host a com­mu­nity cel­e­bra­tion morn­ing tea. At War­rackn­abeal on Wed­nes­day, ex­ist­ing and po­ten­tial vol­un­teers can drop in to War­rackn­abeal Neigh­bour­hood House and Learn­ing Cen­tre, which will host a bar­be­cue. In Hor­sham, Wim­mera Health Care Group will host a drop in, and St Ar­naud a ‘thank you’ morn­ing tea in the Perry Room at the town hall. Guests will be wel­comed to a func­tion cel­e­brat­ing vol­un­teers at Stawell’s Pow­er­house on Thurs­day evening, with a light sup­per pro­vided, while Fri­day will see the WRSA open its doors for a sec­ond drop-in ses­sion and West Wim­mera Shire host a com­mu­nity morn­ing tea at Eden­hope’s Red Tail Gallery. Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion vol­un­teer­ing re­sources pro­gram of­fi­cer Michelle Pit­man said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was thrilled to pro­mote and en­cour­age vol­un­teers and mem­bers of the pub­lic to at­tend events cel­e­brat­ing Na­tional Vol­un­teer Week. “It is an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion recog­nis­ing the gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tion of vol­un­teers from across Aus­tralia and be­yond,” she said. “And the 2018 theme of ‘Give a lit­tle. Change a lot’ sim­ply ex­presses just how the gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tions of vol­un­teers can add up to have a big, and pos­i­tive, im­pact.” Ms Pit­man de­scribed the va­ri­ety of vol­un­teer­ing avail­able across the Wim­mera as stag­ger­ing. “So many peo­ple tell us that, with­out the work of their vol­un­teers, their com­mu­nity sim­ply wouldn’t func­tion,” she said. “We en­cour­age vol­un­teers to at­tend these events and, if you would like to give a lit­tle but change a lot as a vol­un­teer, we can help find the right op­por­tu­nity for you. Give us a call on 03 5382 5607”. Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Julie Pet­tett said vol­un­teers were mak­ing a difference in every shire, town and com­mu­nity and they were mak­ing an im­pact by us­ing their skills, ex­pe­ri­ence and pas­sion for a per­son, a place, an or­gan­i­sa­tion or our en­vi­ron­ment. “They vote for what they be­lieve is im­por­tant by giv­ing their time and skills, and are they are ab­so­lutely worth their weight in gold,” she said. “We thank vol­un­teers for their con­tri­bu­tion every day, how­ever, this Na­tional Vol­un­teer Week I’d es­pe­cially like ev­ery­one to thank vol­un­teers by join­ing in an event that cel­e­brates the vol­un­teer­ing. “To our vol­un­teers, on be­half of the Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion, I would like to say a per­sonal thank you for all you do... we couldn’t make a difference with­out you!”

‘It’s a two way street’

MOV­ING to Hor­sham ‘tem­po­rar­ily’ in 2009, John and San­dra Bamkin thought they’d vol­un­teer ‘while we’re here’. Nine years on the cou­ple could have never imag­ined the amaz­ing im­pact their friendly vis­it­ing would have or the on­go­ing friend­ships they would de­velop. No strangers to vol­un­teer­ing, hav­ing given their time to var­i­ous roles through­out the course of many decades, the cou­ple spent 22 years trav­el­ling Aus­tralia in their bus and gain­ing amaz­ing life ex­pe­ri­ences, be­fore mov­ing to Hor­sham when John was given the chance to study IT. Join­ing the for­mer Wim­mera HUB, San­dra was in­volved in tak­ing clients shop­ping while John vol­un­teered as a driver, with their roles later evolv­ing to friendly vis­it­ing; some­thing the cou­ple’s im­pres­sive back­ground as coun­sel­lors no doubt ben­e­fits. And, aged a spritely 73 and 76 re­spec­tively, San­dra and John sim­ply refuse to ut­ter the ‘R’ word…re­tire­ment. “We have a laugh when peo­ple say they’re re­tired as we refuse to use that word; we have so much still to offer,” San­dra said. “Vol­un­teer­ing as friendly vis­i­tors is a lot of fun and we have de­vel­oped strong rap­port and friend­ships with the peo­ple we visit.” John agreed. “Plus, we get a lot out of know­ing we can still be of use to the com­mu­nity, we like keep­ing ac­tive, and get to meet lots of nice peo­ple and have fun,” he said. If their coun­selling back­ground was not im­pres­sive enough, the cou­ple are also trained in IT, man­age­ment, nat­u­ral ther­a­pies, mas­sage and train­ing, and, dur­ing their trav­els, spent time liv­ing and work­ing with Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties. Vis­it­ing a client who was shy, closed off and did not en­gage with them to the point he ini­tially re­fused to let them en­ter his home, the cou­ple worked on the man’s en­gage­ment skills and are proud to now con­sider the client a friend who has most def­i­nitely come out of his shell since they met. “We’ve de­vel­oped such a good friend­ship with this client, who loves go­ing for cof­fee and drives, and even asked whether he could spend his birth­day with us,” San­dra said. “We used to run med­i­ta­tion classes and brought him along. This helped him get out of the house and meet new peo­ple. Prior to our friendly vis­it­ing there is no way he would have ever done that.” Cit­ing an­other of their clients who has some health is­sues and is so­cially iso­lated, the cou­ple said the client was very happy to see them. Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion vol­un­teer en­gage­ment of­fi­cer Bren Gil­more said “John and San­dra’s re­sults with our clients are just amaz­ing.” “Ex­cep­tion­ally friendly and pos­i­tive, the cou­ple even have an open door pol­icy at their home, of­fer­ing young peo­ple a safe place to come for a meal or chat.” she said. John and San­dra said they had noth­ing but praise for the Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion in their man­age­ment and en­cour­age­ment of vol­un­teers. “They go out of their way to en­sure clients are matched with a suit­able vol­un­teer and, as a re­sult, vol­un­teers can be with the same client for a con­sid­er­able time,” John Said En­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to give vol­un­teer­ing a go, John said “If peo­ple have knowl­edge and skills they can share with oth­ers, self-worth and self-real­i­sa­tion can be a two way street.”

FRIENDLY: Cen­tre for Par­tic­i­pa­tion friendly vis­i­tor vol­un­teers John and San­dra Bamkin get a lot out of their role and be­lieve it is a two way street. Pic­ture: CON­TRIB­UTED

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