Volunteers love to volunteer

25 November 2016

Over 600 volunteers give their time regularly to Presbyterian Support Otago, clocking up an impressive 36,420 hours over the last 12 months. Why do they do it? Two of our volunteers explain.

Head to Holmdene, Balclutha, on a Friday afternoon and you’ll find almost all of the 35 residents gathered in the lounge. They’ve gathered to listen to volunteer Bing Crosby (pictured below) entertaining them on his mobile organ. Not THAT Bing, but our very own Bing Crosby.

Bing has been volunteering for several decades at both care homes in Balclutha. He says, “I do this because I firmly believe we all need to do something to support the community and the people living in it. The residents here just love the music and I play the tunes they all remember.”

The contribution that Bing makes extends beyond making music. When he sees a practical need Bing takes care of it. He’s made mobile newspaper reading tables and designed and built a stand so residents with limited mobility can play indoor bowls.

You’ll find Helen Humphrey (pictured above) volunteering in Ross Home, Dunedin every Tuesday and Thursday morning. She looks after the mobile shopping trolley and plays the piano to accompany the resident’s weekly sing-along. Helen also volunteers as a Licensed Anglican lay minister, so occasionally assists with the Sunday services.

Helen began volunteering with the mobile trolley five years ago and it’s easy to see how much she enjoys it.

“While I’m selling items to the residents it’s not really about the soap or the sweets, but about the conversations you have. There are some real characters at Ross Home and you build relationships with them over time.”

You’d be mistaken to think it’s just two hours each Tuesday when Helen is behind the trolley. She makes sure the shop is well stocked weekly, tracks all sales and looks after the occasional special purchasing request from the residents.

Staff got wind of the fact that Helen plays the organ, so with a little encouragement, her Tuesday volunteering expanded to include Thursday mornings. Now on Thursdays, a group of residents get together to have a sing-a-long with Michelle, Senior Activities Co-ordinator, accompanied by Helen. There is no plan, they just choose songs as they go and enjoy the time together.

If you have a skill to share and some time to spare, consider volunteering with Presbyterian Support. Contact Michelle at 03 477 7115, or michelleg@psotago.org.nz for more information.