Suncare Community Services is celebrating International Volunteer Day on Saturday 5 December, by recognising the significant impact its 200 volunteers have continued to make for clients this year – even through incredibly trying times and navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theme for International Volunteer Day 2020 is ‘Together We Can Through Volunteering’ and the purpose of the day is to recognise the hard work volunteers do every day.
Suncare Community Services CEO Russell Mason could not believe the unwavering support from volunteers when their workforce had to adapt to significant changes brought on from COVID-19.
“Suncare volunteers provide invaluable assistance to our clients, making sure they keep socially engaged and active, and that became very challenging to continue in the same way this year,” said Mr Mason.
“Many of our volunteers were also deemed to be in a high risk category and were unable to continue volunteering in the same capacity due to their age or for medical reasons.
“Our volunteers were really adaptable and through our Suncare Digital program and a revised Meals on Wheels delivery, they were able to still keep connected to our customers and provide support to families that were really feeling the strain.”
Volunteering is a really important part of Australia’s national identity with 5.8 million formal volunteers donating approximately 734 million hours of time to the community. (1)
While volunteering has been adapted through 2020, many people who have had the time and community commitment have continued to volunteer because of the relationship that they have with clients.
Bernice Axsentieff worked with Suncare for more than three years and started as a support worker for Pam Taylor four years ago.
After Bernice finished working in 2020 she decided to maintain her friendship with Pam and has enjoyed volunteering her services even through COVID-19.
“Pam often says that our weekly visits remind her of the coffee dates that she used to share with her closest sister who has now passed away. Needless to say, she looks forward to the visits each week,” said Ms Axsentieff.
“During COVID, I tried to keep everything as normal as possible for Pam. Taking walks around her garden, sharing knowledge about the various plants that Pam has and baking cakes to resemble our usual morning tea and coffee dates.
“The most important advice I could give about volunteering would be make sure you are a friend first and foremost and someone they like to see or hear from regularly. I try and remember everyone’s interests, likes, dislikes, just as I would with any friendship.”
Mr Mason emphasises that whilst many volunteers speak about how rewarding the role is for them, it is important to note that they are giving so much more than to just one person – they are a valuable investment to the community.
“We can’t thank them enough. They are making a meaningful difference in someone’s life just by being there to listen or talk.”
Suncare Community Services Volunteers are celebrating the year 2020, striking up some fun with a game of bowls, nibbles and social time throughout December.