Embracing compassion: Mary’s inspirational journey as an Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS) volunteer in Swan Hill
Mary, an ACVVS volunteer with the older person she visits.
In the heart of Swan Hill, a charming town in Victoria’s Mallee region, one remarkable woman is reshaping how we think about ageing and kindness. Mary is a living example of the incredible difference one can make when dedicated to helping others—the power of volunteering.
A wonderful family and career
Mary’s life is far from ordinary. At 70, she shares her days with her husband and maintains regular contact with her two grown-up daughters and seven grandchildren aged between 13 and 20. But Mary’s dedication to improving the world extends far beyond her family.
Even in her retirement, Mary devotes two days each week to her role in Training and Assessment. She is on a mission to help adults become skilled disability support workers, making a brighter future possible for those she guides.
A journey of giving back
But Mary’s compassion doesn’t stop at work. She has been involved in community service for years, actively participating in her local church. Mary’s beautiful singing voice graces the multicultural choir and is the driving force behind their much-loved morning teas. Mary has also recently joined the local bowling club’s social committee. Eight years ago, she embarked on a mission to ‘give back’ to her community, planning for meaningful activities to fill her retirement.
Volunteering with Elder Rights Advocacy: A perfect fit
Volunteering with the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS) at Elder Rights Advocacy (ERA) was a natural choice for Mary. ‘I am very passionate about supporting vulnerable people in our community,’ she emphasises.
Mary’s journey as an ACVVS volunteer started in May 2020, inspired by an online ad. ‘I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to follow up on my intention to volunteer some time to spend with a person who wanted someone to chat with and become friends with.’
An unbreakable connection
During the challenging days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary started her volunteering journey over the phone. With regular calls to Barbara, the lady she befriended, their connection grew stronger. As restrictions eased, Mary began visiting Barbara at her home, deepening their friendship. Today, they switch between phone calls and in-person visits, eagerly awaiting these moments of connection and joy.
Volunteering for the joy of giving
Mary doesn’t volunteer for personal gain. Her motivation is to give, not to receive. She admits, ‘I don’t volunteer to get anything out of it, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much joy I get from our conversations and laughter.’ Their shared love for the Collingwood AFL (Australian Football League) team added excitement to their friendship during this year’s footy season.
An encouraging message
Mary believes that volunteering is a journey everyone should experience at some point. She reflects on her upbringing, where her parents set an example by volunteering in local sporting clubs, places of worship, and fundraisers. Witnessing their joy in contributing to the community left a lasting impression.
For those considering volunteering, Mary encourages them to contemplate the blessings of independence and the potential to brighten someone else’s life. She says, ‘Think about how much time they could spare each week to brighten someone else’s life and, ultimately, theirs as well.’ She further urges reflection on the loneliness some individuals experience and asks us to imagine the tables turned.
A hope for more volunteers
As Mary concludes, she expresses a heartfelt wish, ‘It would be wonderful to have more ACVVS volunteers in the community. I would love to see more lonely people benefiting from this program.’
Mary’s journey is an inspiring testament to the power of compassion, connection, and community service. Her story proves that regardless of age, each of us can make a significant impact, one that can bring smiles, laughter, and warmth to those in need. Her journey encourages us all to embrace the spirit of volunteering and make a difference in our communities.