On International Volunteer Day, here’s ‘hello’ from Ken
“It's amazing when you've been married for so long and you've had somebody, to then be on your own. To have to adjust, it's very difficult.
Family and friends are wonderful, but I’m still a people person and I like people around me. Two illnesses and operations restricted me quite a lot, not only because I couldn't drive my car for a long while, but then it was about having the desire to go out.
So I contacted Red Cross and through that that I met Zoe. I spoke to Zoe Carter on the phone and Zoe arranged to bring out a volunteer to see whether that person and I, we could sort of match. To help me get over my…well, loneliness.
I didn't quite know what to expect because well first of all Zoe said to me "I'm bringing a student out to you and he's 20". I thought “my goodness. What are we going to have in common?”.
I met Chris at the front door, he came in, and after his first initial visits, well we started having a few games of cards, and we found out a few common interests. And it just grew. I found out that Chris was interested in stamp collecting and I am too, so we were able to exchange a few stamps.
I had this nice piece of timber, cedar timber, and I made Chris a little box to put on his desk, to put his pens and things in it, and I gave it to him. And then from there he intimated to me that yes he's really interested in the woodwork, so we went outside to the garage and I taught him. I got him to probably get a few more muscles on his arms using that planer, and I thought 'well, he wants to do this, he's got to learn, so this is how'.
I guess sometimes without realising it we can let ourselves get in a rut and we can lock ourselves in to a certain position and not realise that ‘oh but I used to do this, and I used to do that’. And I think by just having a casual chat to Chris and finding out that he was interested in woodwork, we went out into the garage and it rejuvenated me, it's got me interested again.
My mother taught us the best way to make somebody happy is for you to be happy, and to pass that on to another person. And that's my motto. And I'm sure the fact that I've done something for Chris, if he's learnt something from it, well then I'm happy.”
Ken, Croydon Hills VIC, 82 years old
I wanted to share the above message from Ken for two reasons:
Firstly, today is International Volunteer Day. I would like to send my whole-hearted thanks to volunteers everywhere. Ken is one of many thousands of people whose lives are made brighter by our volunteers – whether it be through a weekly visit, a phone call, a lift to an appointment, sharing information so people can make informed decisions, helping out in an office, branch or shop, or encouraging someone to be their best self. These actions connect people and make society a better place for all of us. So thank you to everyone who volunteers.
If you have a volunteer story to tell – perhaps about your own experience or of when a volunteer helped you – please share it with us on our Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secondly, you may have noticed on our social media channels and website that we have started celebrating the Season of Belonging. The festive season can be a lonely time for many people but each of us can change that by taking action in our own communities, or making a donation to support Red Cross’ work. Here are five things you can do to make this the Season of Belonging - from welcoming someone new in town, to being kind on social media.
Our Florence Nightingale award recipients at Government House.
Honouring our Red Cross nurses
Today five extraordinary women who have worked in some of the most complex and dangerous environments around the world were awarded the International Red Cross’ highest honour, the Florence Nightingale Award.
Congratulations to Anne Carey, Barbara McMaster, Catherine Salmon, Catherine Fry and Ruth Jebb on this much-deserved award. From South Sudan to Yemen to Sierra Leone to Afghanistan, these women have worked side by side with local staff and volunteers as they treat horrific injuries caused by weapons, care for patients suffering Ebola and change the lives of many more by educating and mentoring them on hygiene and disease prevention.
The ceremony was held this morning at Government House in Canberra and I’d like to echo our Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove’s sentiments:
“Your determination to change lives is the hallmark of not just your careers, but also your lives. Ultimately yours is a human pursuit and it is your humanity, selflessness, courage and compassion that we are here to recognise.”
You can read more about what each of these women have achieved, here.