Mercy Place Albury marks International Volunteer Day

VOLUNTEERS do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.

A HELPING HAND:  Mercy Place Albury resident Thelma Fergusson often receives a hand massage from volunteer Dawn Prentice, of Lavington.

A HELPING HAND: Mercy Place Albury resident Thelma Fergusson often receives a hand massage from volunteer Dawn Prentice, of Lavington.

Such quotes are repeated because all can recognise the truth in their words.

On Monday, those who work freely without pay will be honoured through International Volunteer Day.

Mercy Place Albury is one of many Border organisations that depends on its community workers.

“We couldn’t do half the stuff that we do without volunteers,” lifestyle co-ordinator Michelle Phillips said.

Ms Phillips said extra help at the aged care facility allowed staff to complete other tasks and the residents enjoyed having visitors.

“It’s not our face all the time, different people, different stories, different backgrounds,” she said.

Wodonga’s Gloria Day began volunteering 25 years ago in a variety of roles and now oversees Mercy Place’s popular bingo activity.

“You come over here and you’ve got your aches and pains and you look at these people in here and think, ‘What have I got to complain about?’,” she said.

“So they brighten my day up as I try to brighten theirs.”

And she plans to keep on volunteering.

“Oh, I don’t intend to give up yet, they’ve got to kick me out, I think, before I leave,” Mrs Day said, smiling.  

Paul Vance, of Lavington, became a Mercy Place volunteer 11 years ago after he had to give up work, also in a caring profession, owing to a brain tumour.

“Out of adversity I think you either become a victim or you get on with living,” he said.

Mr Vance, who has also completed a chaplaincy course, visits around lunchtime and chats with residents, often encouraging them outside in the fresh air.

“Everyone’s got a story to tell, haven’t they, and they’ve all got their dignity,” he said. 

Lavington’s Dawn Prentice has volunteered for many groups, but joined the Mercy team in response to the organisation’s earlier care of her late partner.

She chats and gives hand massages to residents, aware everyday physical contact can be missing in their lives.

“I can see what they’re going through,” Mrs Prentice said. “It’s nice for that touch.”

Mercy Place’s two newest volunteers are couple Afshin Rajabi and Sara Gholampousaadi, Iranian refugees who arrived in Albury two years ago.

Mr Rajabi is studying aged care and visited Mercy Place with his TAFE teacher, which made him and his wife interested in contributing more.

They join in with people at morning tea, talking and getting to know them.

“The residents are loving them,” Ms Phillips said.

International Volunteer Day’s theme this year is #GlobalApplause – give volunteers a hand.

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