- Last Updated on Sunday, 17 March 2013 14:53
International Volunteer Day
On International Volunteer Day 2012, we celebrate our commitment and hope for a better world. The main focus of International Volunteer Day 2012 is awareness of and recognition for volunteers and volunteer organisations. The purpose is to recognise this commitment, to inform people about the impact of volunteering on peace and sustainable development, and to applaud volunteers for their dedication and impact.
International Volunteer Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985, and is now celebrated worldwide with thousands of volunteers involved in International Volunteer Day initiatives including clean-up campaigns, conferences, exhibitions, morning teas and other activities that highlight the role of volunteers in their communities.
International Volunteer Day is held on 5 December each year. To find out more about International Volunteer Day 2012 visit UN Volunteers Volunteer Action Counts.
Volunteering Qld thanks over one million Queenslanders who volunteer and encourages all volunteer involving organisations to be involved in the celebration.
Visit volunteeringaustralia.org for event ideas, tips for recognising volunteers and facts on volunteering in Australia.
Somerset Volunteer Capacity Research Snapshot
This research snapshot provides an overview of some key results of the challenges, issues and experiences of volunteers in the Somerset Region. Further data analysis and findings were delivered to the community on International Volunteer Day, 5 December.
The Somerset Region has over 230 voluntary community groups (SRC Community Register, Nov 2010). This reflects a comparatively high rate of volunteering to other Local Government Areas in the State - 22% of residents compared to 18% for the whole of Queensland (ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2006). These groups and volunteers are fundamental in building and maintaining our communities – providing social and economic support, a sense of belonging, a range of recreational activities, and opportunities for community participation. Volunteer groups providing social support and recreational activities are particularly important to the Somerset Region, given the lack of access to both funded community support services and the sort of recreational facilities accessible in larger urban centres. During and since the 2011 Queensland floods, many of these volunteer groups played a crucial role in the recovery of affected communities – for example by mobilising their membership and resources to support affected residents.
The Volunteer Capacity Building Project key objectives are to gain a greater understanding of volunteer and volunteer groups across the region, and implement diverse strategies to strengthen volunteering and community groups. Volunteering Qld, in conjunction with Somerset Regional Council, conducted research to understand the volunteer groups issues and challenges. The research component which primarily consisted of an online survey/s was conducted during April – June 2012.
A number of key findings emerged from the research, which will provide invaluable information for strengthening the capacity of volunteers across the region.
International Volunteer Day - Volunteer Stories
Celebrating 20 Years of Volunteering
Seven mornings a week, Gordon Dobbin, at the youthful age of 86 years, drives across town to be with patients awaiting surgery at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
His journey began 20 years ago when he experienced grave ill health, radical life saving surgery, and many months in hospital. It was this experience that made him decide to dedicate the rest of his life to supporting others through the experience of major surgery.
As a regular visitor to the P.A. Hospital, Gordon was asked by Queensland Baptist Care to join its hospital chaplaincy team in 1991, which he kindly accepted.
In the hospital chaplain’s role, Gordon offers his services voluntarily to patients and staff and anyone else who asks to see him for conversation and/or spiritual support.
The 86-year-old from McDowall voluntarily supports people through illness, death and many of the sadnesses of life, yet shrugs off any notion of praise, as he says that caring for others is something that he was “called upon to do”.
“Chaplaincy work is definitely a calling, and although it’s emotionally, spiritually and physically draining, it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” he said.
Gordon’s day starts with visits to the early morning surgical ward contacts, followed by visits to the general wards. Available on call for crisis calls 24/7 anywhere in the hospital, he is held in high regard and has completed two terms as the Liaison Chaplain, organising the overall chaplaincy work at the P.A. Hospital. He also organises a team who minister to patients in fortnightly Sunday morning services at the hospital’s chapel.
Gordon’s dedication to hospital chaplaincy supports 260-300 people at the P.A. Hospital every month. He volunteers because he enjoys offering comfort and support to people at a time when they are under a great deal of stress and can feel isolated.
“For me it’s a privilege to minister to the sick and to try to offer hope to people at their most vulnerable times. This is the way the Lord led me; and I now believe my own long stay in hospital was preparation for the 20 year ministry that would follow,” he said.
His own illness coupled with his wife’s sudden death helps him to empathise with people in difficult situations. Experience garnered over a lifetime is also beneficial, he added.
“You come home with a broken heart more often than not, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Recently I had to sit with a family through the death of their father and husband and it was tough to see a young boy spend his 13th birthday in the intensive care ward waiting for his father to die. You’re dealing with broken families and it’s a privilege to just be there for them at this difficult time. I consider it a miracle that I survived my own illness as my family were told that I was going to die. So prayers do work and you need to never give up hope,” he added
But Gordon said that he has also seen some “joyous” situations, such as emotional family reconciliations and people’s elation after getting good news.
“One father was gravely ill in the hospital and he hadn’t spoken to his son for many many years. It was quite likely he might die but I had to do a lot of persuasion to get permission to ring his son. Eventually he let me call him and his son dropped everything and was there within an hour at the hospital. You do see some real positive and joyous things come out of this work. The main thing is just to be there for people and to provide a listening ear. You experience the full range of emotions from people, regret, happiness, sadness, fear. But people respond very well to someone who is not judgemental and is just there to help them on their journey. Listening to people is the most important thing,” he said.
It is inspiring to see someone who so selflessly gives of himself, to help others and even in his advanced years continues to serve.
Gordon quietly brings calm, hope and reassurance to people at a time when their strength and faith is being tested by difficult circumstances.
His commitment to serving the community every day for 20 years is, unquestionably, impacting and changing lives for the better. In what can be a time of uncertainty and deep apprehension, Gordon’s familiar face supports, reassures and inspires patients and their families through the challenges they face.
Katrina awarded for dedication to volunteering
A woman who was voted Queensland Baptist Care’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’ after spending almost two decades enriching the lives of residents at Hilltop Gardens, insists that she gets so much more back from the people she meets.
Katrina Porter was an easy choice for Queensland Baptist Care’s inaugural award as she is well known for her “humility and graciousness” and for always putting others first “and never counting the personal cost”.
Asked why she was drawn to volunteering, Katrina said that she wanted to give something back to the community and enjoys helping others.
“I really enjoy visiting the elderly and you get so much back when you give to others. I wanted to make a difference in some small way and the residents are so appreciative, especially those whose families live interstate. It’s a privilege to be able to visit people when they are sick or just needing company. None of us can escape getting older and maybe one day someone will be kind to me,” she said.
Nominating her for the 2012 award, Aged Care Chaplain, Bob Guthrie said: “Katrina's example of service is truly an inspiration, and widely admired among all at Hilltop and beyond”.
“The preparation of weekly Wednesday devotions; attendance at Sunday worship services as pianist, supporter or occasionally leader; empathetic visits to dozens of residents in their rooms at Hilltop Gardens or in hospital; countless errands and shopping excursions on their behalf - this is the 'normal' weekly schedule of Katrina as she gives selflessly to Hilltop and its community. This is all done with great humility, always with the other person in mind,” he said.
Katrina is a familiar friendly face around Hilltop Gardens, as she has been volunteering there for almost 18 years, following in the footsteps of her parents, Ormond and Grace Porter who both worked as chaplains in the aged care centre.
“My father retired from chaplaincy in 2008, when he was 90, but the two of us used to visit residents together for a number of years, as we saw more people that way. My sister and I learned from both of our parents to care for others and they really inspired us. If you’re helping and thinking about others, you don’t have time to think about yourself and it makes me happy when I’m helping others.”
Always shrugging off any notion of praise for herself, Katrina comes across as a selfless and caring person who lights up when she talks about the happiness she derives from her volunteering work.
“You get so much encouragement from the residents. They become your friends and they are such beautiful people. Families really appreciate you visiting as well and they just make you feel so welcome. I have met such interesting people over the years and I’m amazed at some of the things they’ve done in their lives and all the history they tell me about. I’m gaining such a lot,” she said.
Katrina is one of 125 volunteers who work across all of Queensland Baptist Care's services assisting in areas such as diversional therapy activities, coffee shops, library services, administration, maintenance, chaplaincy, youth work, teaching, gardening, cooking, devotions and community visitation schemes to name but a few.
These volunteers play a vital role in helping us to care for those in need; and their selfless and largely unacknowledged actions have enriched the lives of everyone around them.
Volunteering makes the heart grow fonder
Carol Brown has been volunteering for 23 years and says that’s what her passion in life is.
“I find it’s rewarding to help people for no reward back. I just like to be around people and help them out,” Mrs Brown said.
Carol began her volunteering career with bird society clubs and sales tables. She then began at the Logan City Special School, Crestmead State School and Marsden High Tuck-Shops when her children were going through school.
Carol became aware of Multicap after attending an Expo in search for options for her son, Bradley.
Bradley, 23 has Down syndrome. He attended Logan City Special School, then went to Keystone and now works at Monte Lupo.
He attends other programs including Youth and Family Services where he does social bowling, then on Monday he goes to Bluegums and they go dancing.
“Brad didn’t want to go to Keystone, so I went to an Expo when Brad was still at Logan City Special School and in amongst that was Multicap. Because Brad doesn’t have funding for his disability I rang Multicap to check if he needed funding to volunteer and they said he doesn’t so I got him to start here,” said Mrs Brown.
“Then one day Brad was in volunteering and I was sitting in the car park waiting and I thought I wonder if I could start helping as well, “she said.
Mrs Brown says she enjoys volunteering at Multicap because of the variety tasks and the opportunity to work with different people.
Carol started out with buttons, flock tags and whatever was on the agenda.
“I’ve learnt so much more and you can broaden your horizons with the different tasks and the people you meet, it’s rewarding,” Mrs Brown said.
“A lot of places needed funding for your child to go there. Multicap doesn’t so I thought that would be a good place to start,” she said.
Outside of Multicap Brad also helps out at the bird shop at Marsden, Parrot Supplies Australia, whilst Carol enjoys cooking and reading recipes, sewing, gardening and visiting her daughter.
Mrs Brown suggested looking around because there’s so much opportunity to volunteer and it’s rewarding.