KEEPING busy and making new friends are among the reasons Malcolm Levy enjoys giving up his time to help others.
Malcolm Levy, 85, of Lockleys, has lived at ECH independent retirement living village David Read Lodge with his wife June, for 10 years, and is the organisation's oldest volunteer. The aged care service provider is celebrating its volunteers with a special thank you event on May 19, coinciding with National Volunteer Week.
ECH has 117 volunteers, who assist with tasks including arts, gardening, music and social groups, but more are needed.
Malcolm started volunteering for the organisation by accident. In his working life he worked as an accountant, financial planner and a tax agent and retired in 2003, when he was about 65 years old. In 1999 he attended what was called a 'conversation café'.
"We were set up in tables of four and the host initiated a subject which we would discuss on our tables. Later the host would welcome someone from each table to stand up and present to the wider group what had been discussed. This really appealed to me," he said.
Fast forward to 2012, he moved into the Lodge, had a conversation with an ECH staff member, started volunteering with ECH, and introduced the cafe concept.
"I delivered about 400 brochures in letterboxes, promoting the conversation café and then I started to welcome participants. I had always been willing to do my bit and interested in helping out in some form."
Malcolm is also part of a team of three which organise group activities, including bus tours. A highlight for Malcolm was a trip to Lyndoch for the 170th Anniversary of Colonel Light naming the Barossa Valley and Lyndoch.
"There was a house built on the spot he named, and a French fellow lived there for six months of the year, and the other six months in France. He was our host, and he had a huge statue of Colonel Light in his house. Even the locals didn't know about this statue - it was just amazing," Malcolm said.
He's also recently joined an ECH walking group and, along with June, goes to a church every week that collects food, and delivers it to the organisation that distributes it.
"I enjoy the social aspects of volunteering, meeting new people and making a difference to the lives of others. I do it because I like helping people and it keeps me busy and active," he said.
"I've met many people on the bus tours, and I've made friends with others from different retirement villages. You find you have things in common and it's lovely."
ECH General Manager Client Experience Carolyn Dawkins said its programs would not be possible without volunteers.
"As a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation, the majority of our community engagement programs are funded through our own benevolence," Carolyn said.
"Activities are typically free to attend or have a very small participation fee such as a gold coin donation. As we are not charging for these activities it's very important to ECH to have volunteers, because without them these community engagement programs couldn't run.
"We are very grateful for people generously donating their time to our programs, it means a great deal to us and our clients. On May 19 we are hosting a special thank you lunch for our volunteers - to recognise and reward them for giving their time so freely. It's about bringing people together and celebrating the difference they make."
ECH has established a formal program to help find meaningful roles for people that they will enjoy.
"Our Volunteer Lead will sit down and talk through the volunteer's skills and discuss what they would like to share, that way their skills and knowledge really shine," Carolyn said.
ECH is looking for volunteers in the following areas:
- Friendly Pet Visiting - bringing a furry friend to visit clients
- Help with setting up, umpiring and other support for Walking Footy games
- Walking group leaders
Click here for more information.
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