Betty and Allan Mitchell have dedicated more than a decade of their time to brightening the lives of older people.
The couple, just two of many volunteers who will be acknowledged tomorrow on International Volunteer Day, were recently awarded a 10 year volunteering service honour from Victorian not for profit aged and disability services organisation, Villa Maria.
During their twice weekly visits, Ms Mitchell, 73, (pictured with Villa Maria's former board president, Dr Angela Atkin), runs a knitting and craft group for ladies, while Mr Mitchell, 78, assists with bocce games.
They first discovered Villa Maria’s Bundoora aged care residence when Ms Mitchell’s late mother, Phyllis, moved to the facility in 1998.
For a “hands on person” like Ms Mitchell, volunteering is something that adds great value to her life.
“Most of the ladies who come in give me a kiss on the cheek and if I’ve been off for a couple of weeks they say, ‘I’m glad you’re back’,” Ms Mitchell says.
“I find volunteering really rewarding and I love the companionship I have with the ladies. It’s great to see the smiles on their faces when we come in. It’s more like a family than anything. We have a bit of a natter and, before you know it, the time is gone!”
Annette McDonald, Villa Maria Bundoora activities and lifestyle assistant, says the Mitchell’s respective contributions were “invaluable”.
“Ms Mitchell is very cheerful and cheeky and makes a lot of residents happy. While Allan is a bit quieter; he interacts with the men very well and they really enjoy his company,” Ms McDonald says.
“They have been volunteers here for so long it’s hard to imagine them not coming in,” she adds.
Ms Mitchell has also recently knitted knee blankets and pot holders and made gift cards to donate to Villa Maria’s opportunity shops which raise much needed funds for the organisation.
“I like to do a bit of this and a bit of that to help out – it keeps me out of mischief!” she laughs.
For more information on volunteering, visit Villa Maria or call (03) 9855 7755.