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Volunteering forges an unlikely bond

An unlikely bond between a 17-year-old high school student and an 89-year-old retired accountant has highlighted the power of volunteering as ACH Group celebrates National Volunteer Week.

In January, Edward Mickan, 17, began volunteering at ACH Group’s Kapara Aged Care Home where he met 89-year-old Ken Elliott.

For an hour every Sunday, Edward visits Kapara to catch up with Ken for a walk, a touch of gardening or just a good old-fashioned chin wag.

“He (Edward) just sort of showed up one day and we sort of just immediately got on well together,” Ken said.

“He makes a hell of a difference in my life when he visits. It just brightens my day.

“I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch but every Sunday I know that Edward is coming to visit.

“He is always smiling and always has something good to say which is exactly what I need.”

Edward, who wants to study to become a neurosurgeon after graduating from Immanuel College this year said the relationship was far from a one-way street.

“Our connection very much goes both ways. I’m excited to come here every Sunday,” he said.

“It has been a joy getting to learn about Ken’s life.

“At first I started volunteering here because it was just around the corner from my home but now that I’ve done it, I just love it and I’m really passionate about getting more young people to volunteer.”

Edward is so passionate about volunteering he has developed a youth volunteering program dubbed ‘Youthful Embrace’ as part of a high school assignment.

The program has recently got its first young volunteer with another 17-year-old high school student now also volunteering out of Kapara.

ACH Group volunteer coordinator Cate Balfour-Ogilvy said although the COVID years had decimated aged care volunteer numbers the past two years had seen a resurgence – predominately by younger people.

Cate said there were two key factors driving an uptick in youth volunteering: the joy they get from the personal connection with older South Australians and a growing focus on community service to cultivate career pathways.

“Young people are coming out of the woodwork to volunteer with us,” she said.

“I think a lot of the time the first motivating factor is that volunteering will help career prospects but once they start volunteering it really gets under their skin.”

ACH Group CEO Linda Feldt said volunteers form an integral part of the support ACH Group provides for older South Australians.

“The impact our volunteers have on the quality of lives of our residents and customers is huge,” she said.

“Volunteering is such a beautiful and selfless thing to do, and I’d like to thank all the volunteers across South Australia for the contribution they make.”

ACH Group has 160 registered volunteers across nine aged care homes and community programs.

National Volunteer Week runs from 20-26 May 2024 and shines a light on the important role of volunteers and invites people in the community to give volunteering a try.

Anyone interested in volunteering for ACH Group can do get in touch with our Volunteer Services team.


About ACH Group

ACH Group is a not-for-profit community organisation promoting opportunities and services to support older people to live good lives since 1952.

As well as accommodation options across Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula, ACH Group offers a range of health, wellbeing, respite, and support services, help at home and social experiences.

Our 1900 specialist staff and hundreds of volunteers share the belief that older people should be valued and respected, connected to their communities and in control of their lives.

For further information or comment, please contact Julie Anderton on 0414 382 854 or [email protected]

Media release: Published 20 May 2024

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