98-year-old Ray Mahony is proof that you're never too old to volunteer. He crochets blankets for Wheelchairs for Kids, an organisation with a workshop in the northern suburb of Wangara. Wheelchairs are assembled and sent free of charge to children overseas who need them. Ray, who lives in Glendalough, enjoys the mental and physical exercise offered by this daily activity. He was taught to crochet by his wife Phyllis, who has since passed away.
Cynthea Pickrell is treasurer and keen teddy-bear handler of the Rotaract Club of Subiaco, whose community projects include giving the toy bears to foster children. A professional accountant, she says she's a volunteer "because I believe I was born lucky and therefore have a responsibility to help those not so fortunate. And I have gotten a lot from volunteering, including skills in public speaking and event organisation."
Rotaract, a non-profit international volunteer organisation for 18 to 30-year-olds, raises its own funds for other projects such as setting up a trust bank in West Timor.
It has been quite a while since I started volunteering, the fact that I am still here must be because I like meeting people and also the set up with Volunteering WA.
When I settled in Perth in 1998 after a busy time in Hong Kong I was looking out for something to do and a neighbour suggested I try Volunteering WA which was then in Stirling Street. Since then I have been with Volunteering WA with a few breaks in between.
Being with Volunteering WA does enable me to do other things which I enjoy doing. This would not have been possible if I was working elsewhere. Flexibility is the key.
Since I like variety in the tasks that I do for Volunteering WA I have tried my hand at research, referrals, data entry, and anything else that has been on offer.
I moved to Perth from London in September 2009 to join my family (or rather to be around to enjoy my grandchildren) and after the excitement of my arrival and settling in I needed something useful to do. Staying at home, going shopping and gardening were no longer fulfilling and homesickness was a problem so instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself I decided to try being a volunteer, not something I had done previously on a regular basis. I also wanted/needed to meet new people.
I started volunteering with Environment House, a small organisation devoted to promoting a ‘green’ way of life. I enjoyed working on the stall they ran at various festivals, shows and the city farm but this was not a regular commitment. By chance I read of Volunteering WA needing a volunteer at their West Perth office so I rang, had an informal interview and began as a volunteer one day a week. My main role was to see prospective volunteers and take a look at the available volunteer positions in their area but I also became involved in promoting volunteering when Volunteering WA, through one of the Volunteer Resource Centres, had a stand in a shopping centre or at an event. I now promote organisational membership of Volunteering WA and am employed one day a week to continue this work.
Through Volunteering WA I became involved with Riding for the Disabled and although I only do a few hours admin work every couple of weeks the school is out in the country and the change of scenery is very welcome. I volunteered for Homeless Connect and as a result went to the Council House for a reception hosted by the City of Perth as a ‘Thank you’. I also attended the launch of the International Year of Volunteering+10 at Government House.
Volunteering has fulfilled all my expectations and more – I feel the work I do is really appreciated, the people I have met are friendly and supportive and I have got to know the City of Perth and the surrounding area. Most importantly it has helped me to settle into my new life and be positive about the future. So get out there in 2011 – the International Year of the Volunteer+10!