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Volunteering from the heart

When Villa Maria volunteer Sue Taylor says she counts the seniors she visits as “part of her extended family”, she means it.
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“I’ve built some lovely strong relationships with the residents over the years,” says Sue. “Trudy, who’s 103, came to our place for Christmas lunch four years ago. And if anyone else is ever alone I will invite them over; there’s always a place at our table.”

The Bundoora resident began volunteering at Villa Maria Bundoora aged care residence in 2004. Sue pops in up to three times each week to help with “anything and everything” including craft activities, driving the bus to community outings, organising birthday celebrations, or simply providing a “friendly ear” for residents to chat to.

“I find volunteering really enriching,” Sue says. “My philosophy is to give back, that’s what the world’s all about. One day I may be sitting in an aged care facility and need someone to talk to. A five minute chat can mean the world to some people. I don’t think we realise how much input and power we have to make a difference, just with our time.”

Sue also devotes time to the families of the residents.

“They go through a grieving process when they first arrive. It’s an enormous decision to place a loved one into care. So I try to be there to support them too.”

Sue’s dedication over a decade as a volunteer will be recognised on May 12 at the Villa Maria Annual Volunteer Luncheon & Service Awards. Held during National Volunteer Week, the awards will recognise 24 Villa Maria volunteers who have served from five to 35 years.

Villa Maria relies on more than 340 volunteers like Sue to help achieve its vision of creating choices and building inclusive, sustainable and compassionate communities every day.

Bron Summers, Manager, Volunteer Services, says National Volunteer Week is the perfect time to say “thank you”.

“As a not for profit organisation, our volunteers are fundamental to our service delivery, providing social opportunities for people as well as administration and fundraising support, particularly through our opportunity shops. Villa Maria was founded by volunteers in 1907 and their contribution is now more important than ever, as we’re continually expanding our reach to support more people in the community,” she says.

As for Sue, she now has a 30 year volunteer award in her sights.

“It’s been an incredible experience so far. I really love it.”

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