Simply Shining-The Volunteer Experience at MACS
It’s quite the understatement that MACS values its impressive team of volunteers. In voicing praise about them where do we start? How do we show our indebtedness to these compassionate and skilled people who dedicate so generously of their own time? And what do we make of their acts of kindness? Every day we see them simply shining through their acts of kindness.
There are currently seventy-three volunteers at MACS. If we thought about them in terms of a recipe, we could say they all come from a unique blend of ingredients. There would be a mix of warm-heartedness, willing attitudes with dashes of humour, downright solid work ethics decorated with upbeat approaches to tasks.
And added to this there’s a richness of many nationalities and spoken languages. As you would expect. After all, MACS is a multicultural organisation. It lives and breathes diversity. Along with an Australian contingent of volunteers, there are those from Italian, Bulgarian, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Indian, Irish, Malaysian, Polish, Portuguese, Scottish, English, Serbian, Yugoslav and German backgrounds.
With this array of difference, comes a dizzying array of volunteer contribution to MACS organised by the Volunteer Co-ordinator, Linda Rizzi. Some work in Stella’s café serving scrumptious food and barista coffee and some deliver mail to residents five days a week. The outdoor types take to gardening—weeds don’t wait for anyone, along with pruning, planting and watching things grow. Waste disposal, woodwork and laundry are there for the taking too. In such a mix there’s an IT wizard. She supports Linda Rizzi and Educator, Lizzy Bilogrevic, by tracking heaps of data.
MACS’ volunteers shine in many other ways too. They sell the most enviable handcrafts, clothing and bric-a-brac in the MACS’ Boutique in the Piazza. All at a reasonable price. The knitting group create dolls, toys, baby gear, fabulous “have to have” shawls, even Legacy poppies. And if that’s not enough, they tirelessly whip up knitted items at home for Geelong Charities and the craft group creates intriguing Christmas brooches. And then there’s those who play music such as the accordion and assist with the music programs.
MACS’ volunteers come out glowing in the social sense. They go out of their way to make sure no resident feels isolated, excluded or bereft. There’s a big shift to one-on-one activities such as walking a resident to the Piazza, escorting them to shops or banks, the garden, other programs such as art classes or lifestyle activities, feeding and assisting with meals. There’s even a story around a couple of volunteers who took a rose to a resident each week. No surprise it was a highlight of his week.
So what’s in it for the MACS’ volunteers? Really? They’re not on about reward or favours for themselves. Can the volunteering experience offer more than having fun or triggering off the pleasure centres in the brain? Surely doing something good for someone else can pay off more dividends than a simple mood boost.
As it turns out, volunteering makes a genuine difference to not only MACS’ residents and staff but to the volunteers themselves. Volunteers at MACS get the chance to develop a heightened sense of belonging to the MACS’ caring community.
Sharing knowledge, talent or life or work experience is recognised at MACS. For a volunteer, there are certainly clear gains to be had in building or maintaining self-esteem, confidence and well-being.
Gaining industry experience is another plus for a volunteer. He or she may be considering paid employment somewhere in the aged care sector, and volunteering is a great way to get it.
Volunteering at MACS is also a brilliant pathway to learning new skills. Every volunteer is offered a comprehensive induction to enable them to perform their role as required and to understand their rights and responsibilities within MACS. Where necessary, the Volunteer Coordinator provides them with additional information, support and training about the tasks involved.