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National Volunteer Week 2020: Our Volunteer Stories
At ACH Group, we are proud to have dedicated and wonderful volunteers who support our vision of good lives for older people. Although Volunteer Week this year may look a bit different due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t stop us from celebrating our incredible volunteers and their valuable contribution.
Daphne brings books to ViTA
This story is about Daphne Hazell who has brought her passion for reading to share with the community.
Daphne Hazell has spent most of her life surrounded by books and, at 91, has just set up her ninth library.
Daphne drew on her many years as a librarian, including 27 years at Sacred Heart College, to establish the library at ViTA, Daw Park.
Many of the 1000+ books and a book trolley have been re-homed from the Repatriation General Hospital library, where Daphne volunteered for 15 years.
The ViTA library was made possible thanks to a $1,200 grant from the ACH Group Foundation for Older Australians, allowing a room to be set up with shelving, a children’s corner and cataloguing materials.
Residents, staff and family members at ViTA have donated hundreds of books, catalogued by Daphne and her team of volunteers using a system of colour coding and subject, title and author cards.
“We’re using a simple system – we’re not doing decimal points – and we have a sign-in book here, so that if someone wants to come and borrow they can do that at any time.”
Residents, staff and family are welcome to browse and borrow, and three days a week volunteers ‘do the rounds’, visiting residents in their rooms with magazines, books and DVDs.
A fan of non-fiction, Daphne says reading is a wonderful way to spend your time.
“There are a lot of places I would have loved to go, but I’ve never felt like I missed out because I can read a book and it takes me there.”
Daphne says she has always enjoyed working as a volunteer. She first volunteered at the age of 16 as a Sunday school kindergarten teacher because senior teachers were being sent to the War.
She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to the Clovelly Park community in 2012 for her many years’ contribution to school, sports clubs, libraries and the Salvation Army.
“You’re never too old to get enjoyment from volunteering,” she says. “It means you have companionship and it makes you feel better in yourself, too. Volunteering has helped me to live, not just exist.”
This story is about another amazing volunteer who has brought the community closer together through her passion to celebrate cultural diversity and religious belief.
Sharon Kelsey is used to standing out from the crowd. As a dedicated Buddhist, she is the only non-Cambodian to attend Friday morning meditation at the Khmer Buddhist temple in MacDonald Park. She’s also a volunteer with ACH Group’s Cambodian Program which brings together members of the Cambodian (Khmer) community each week to dance and share a meal.
“I always stick out, especially when we go on excursions, but I don’t care,” she says. “I love being here and spending time with this community – they’re just beautiful.”
Sharon, 63, became a volunteer two years ago and has been working with ACH Group Support Worker Chamarn Chan to edit a book about the Cambodian community’s experiences with the Pol Pot regime, set to be published by the end of the year.
Many of South Australia’s 10,000-strong Khmer community fled persecution and hardship inflicted by the regime in the 1980s. During that time, many people were killed and forced into hard labour.
For Sharon, who has a very basic understanding of Cambodian, hearing her friends’ stories was a moving experience. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve done,” she says. “These are the people I have come to know, and to hear what they have been through is just so hard. And it makes our little problems seem trivial – we’re all so, so lucky.”
Sharon has been a Buddhist since her 30s, drawn to its teachings. “Buddhism teaches you to take responsibility; that every mistake you’ve made in life is a lesson,” she says. “It’s about working out how to become a better person, to sit there and think about and sort out your problems.”