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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

‘Simply a joy’: Mills’ approach typical of those we celebrate during National Volunteers Week

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It’s National Volunteers Week, and LINK Community and Transport, a not-for-profit provider of assistive services to older Victorians, is celebrating the invaluable work of their volunteers.

The organisation currently enlists the help of more than 50 volunteers who provide a range of services for clients, including driving them to appointments, assisting them with shopping and domestic services.

According to Dr Danny Davis, managing director of LINK Community and Transport, his organisation’s group of volunteers are an asset to the community for multiple reasons.

“It’s not just that society can’t afford to pay for the level of care and support we want in our community — it’s more important than that,” he says.

“None of us want to see a society where care for individuals is a totally financial thing. The community is healthy when care is centred on love and care for family and neighbours.

“We collect volunteers who want to advance their society as a caring community.”

Seventy-four-year-old Barry Mills from Point Cook, a LINK volunteer for more than two-and-a-half years, is a prime example of what an asset volunteers are for the aged care system.

With 40 years of experience in the tourism industry, including conducting tours for senior citizens, it was a natural shift for him to start volunteering in his retirement as a LINK driver.

He typically puts in a full day’s work, starting around 7-8am and wrapping up around 5pm, driving clients to appointments and social events.

“I just love it … each kilometre I travel for clients is simply a joy,” he says.

“I love listening to the clients while I’m driving … a lot of them are women who have just lost their husbands, and so I try and make their day more relaxing, not thinking about what has just happened in their lives.

“They’re living alone; they’ve lost their partners and they’ve got no one to talk to at home, but when I pick them up they seem to have that little bit of a smile.

“They’re brought out of their shell… and that’s the best part of the job.”

But Mills’ work doesn’t stop there, as he’s always on the lookout to help his client’s in any additional way he can.

Recently, he noticed a client’s garden, although lovely, needed a once over with the lawn mower.

“After I finished my volunteer shift, I went back home, picked up my mower and went to her house and mowed her lawn. 

“The look of appreciation on her face was simply priceless. It was like I gave her a million dollars, but for me it was a simple 30 minutes out of my day to put a smile on someone’s face.

“It’s those simple things which means the world to the clients. That’s what make volunteering so satisfying.”

To those who are curious about volunteering, Mills advice is just to go for it.  

“If you are curious about volunteering, my advice is to just do it. You won’t regret it.”

He advises that all volunteers bring with them a strong sense of empathy and desire to get to know each individual client’s needs and situation. 

“You’ve got to have the personality, and you’re going to have to understand human nature, to understand the clients, when you pick them up, what they’re going to be like.

“You’ve got to be willing to get behind that person and understand them — that’s the hardest part of the job.”

And for Mills, the last thing he wants is praise or accolades for what he is doing.

“I don’t want people to come up and shake my hand and say ‘you’re doing a good job’. I’m doing something that I enjoy doing.

“Volunteering fills my cup as well as helping out LINK.

“I’ll be doing it as long as I can keep going, as long as I’m breathing.”

To find out more about LINK Community & Transport click here.

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