Commitment, kindness, resilience: celebrating our wonderful volunteers
This week is National Volunteer Week and this year’s theme, “Changing Lives, Changing Communities” could not be more apt. The uncertain times we live in have undoubtedly tested our ability to adapt to a world that has never changed so drastically and quickly before.
When it’s about adjusting to better support the vulnerable in the community, we find a way.
At Open Support, that adjustment unfortunately included the suspension of activities with volunteers for a while to ensure their health was protected. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel incredibly grateful for this outstanding work, their generosity and their dedication to our mission. Over the years, we have been amazed by our volunteers’ resilience and capacity to get on with helping others, especially in difficult times. The crisis has certainly not changed that – if anything, it has reinforced this spirit of solidarity.
This week we want to say a loud and clear “thank you” to all our volunteers for giving their time to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.
To celebrate their work, we cast the spotlight on two of our volunteers: Irene Oszoly and Margot McNiven. Margot has been a Retail Volunteer with Open Support for the past 12 years, working at the Open Support gift shop. Irene has been a Country Care Link Volunteer Driver for the past 8 years.
Why did you decide to volunteer at Open Support?
Margot: I lost my eldest son suddenly and a couple of years later, I decided to become a volunteer. I became a volunteer at the once known Outreach (now Open Support), established by those strong and amazing bunch of Sisters of Charity – true pioneers of their time. This was such a difficult time personally; I needed to keep busy. The voluntary work allowed me to make a purposeful contribution to those in need, my son would have wanted me to do that. I feel grateful to have been a member of the now Open Support Shop group for the past 12 years. I look forward to my time there, I really have a great time!
Irene: My reasons for volunteering are mainly that my husband was a cancer patient at St Vincent’s Private Hospital. The nun who was taking care of my husband was so wonderful in her care of him (and of me too) that I felt like I wanted to give something back.
What is your favourite part about volunteering?
Irene: My favourite part about volunteering is that I get to feel useful and needed by people who are often in a strange state, unwell and in need of assistance. It makes me feel so good to be able to take part in a program as fulfilling as this one.
Have you had any interesting customers or a volunteer memory you’d like to share?
Margot: One of the most touching times in the shop was when a gentleman came in, in a most distressed state. His mobile phone battery had run out and he had no way of charging it. He came to the shop in despair as he was awaiting a call about his sick wife from the surgeon who said he would contact him when the surgery was completed. I managed to get his phone charged rather swiftly using its adapter. When the surgeon phoned, the man was so grateful for being able to talk to him and all was well. Little things like this is what makes me know and understand how even small favours can make a difference.
Irene: I had an elderly gentleman arrive from Dubbo … it was his first time in ‘the big smoke’. He was so overwhelmed by the vast crazy pace of the city and so grateful that he didn’t need to manoeuvre his way through the maze of people and traffic on his own. To see the immediate look of relief on his face to know that I would drive him to his destination and then back again to the airport was very rewarding for me.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: what do you like to do when you are not volunteering?
Margot: When I’m not volunteering, I spend time with my now five beautiful children and grandchildren; my friends; going to the movies and travelling. To top it all off, I still work as a Registered Nurse in a casual pool.
Irene: When I am not volunteering I most like to spend time with my family and friends. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled extensively throughout Europe and America with my husband and also after his passing.