Image: Rene [right] volunteering as a support worker.

Rene, Volunteer at Umbrella Multicultural Community Care Services

Originally from El Salvador, Rene started volunteering with Umbrella Multicultural Community Care Services in February 2020. He had previously worked for an aged care organisation and after doing some research on the internet, found Umbrella and saw they were looking for volunteers.

“My first contact was with Karla Benitez, the volunteer coordinator, who also speaks Spanish; it was so good to be able to speak with her in Spanish.” 

Speaking several languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English), Rene started volunteering with Umbrella’s Spanish Home@Home group and playing music on his guitar. He also volunteers with the Happy Friday group - older people living with dementia - and finds they really respond to the music. 

“They love it. They really respond and are very happy….they start to sing and dance to the Italian songs.”

When living in Spain, Rene played guitar in a group and says it is good to use his skills as a musician in his volunteering role.   He also enjoys chatting with clients and playing card games from their country. 

A special memory for Rene is going with the Spanish Home@Home group to Araluen for a BBQ.  After lunch, he played guitar, and everyone got involved in singing Que Sera Sera and some were dancing.  

It gives Rene a lot of satisfaction  “…to see that I can do something for the people to make them happy…”. “Clients request songs, for example Italian songs, and I research them on the internet and learn them so I can play them to clients.”      

The COVID-19 lockdown was a frustrating time and Rene was very happy to come back to Umbrella when the social support groups started again. During this time, he practiced more on his guitar and learnt new music and songs to play for clients.    

Rene thinks that National Volunteer Week is important. “National Volunteer Week recognises us as volunteers and makes us feel good….to know we are supporting the community...and this encourages me to keep volunteering.” He is very happy volunteering with Umbrella and feels the organisation supports him and appreciates what he does for clients.