This week Bellarine Community Health is celebrating the generous contribution of its many volunteers as part of National Volunteer Week.
The theme this year is ‘Making a World of Difference’ and that’s exactly what the BCH volunteers do in our local communities.
The support of volunteers enables BCH to offer a wider range of services and programs, which really do make a world of difference to clients and people living across the Bellarine.
Volunteer Mark Krueger has been working with the BCH Social Support team and memory loss groups for several years. Mark drives the bus to pick up clients and then helps in the kitchen.
“It’s nice to be able to help people, especially those that don’t have family support,” said Mark. “You get people who come in for the first time and they’re quiet, but by the end of the day they’re laughing and smiling.”
BCH volunteers contribute in a range of ways; using individual skills such as gardening and administration, or help with programs including well-known Meals on Wheels, Port Produce, Physical Wellness and Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs and Going Places, a service offered by volunteer bus drivers to help older people attend a shopping centre.
The organisation also supports community programs such as the Portarlington Food Assistance Program primarily run by volunteers and the Portarlington Ladies Auxiliary who run the op shop and fund raise. Numerous self-help and community groups in the community also receive in-kind and advisory support
BCH Volunteer Coordinator Jill Rush says there is growing body of research showing the benefits of volunteering for the volunteer.
“Volunteering helps people with social connection, reducing isolation and encouraging a sense of well-being through contribution and purpose,” she said.
Volunteer Mark Krueger agrees. “When you drive home after you volunteer you feel warm inside, it’s like the day was worth it. You get a lot more out of it than you put in.”
BCH is currently planning for a new program to offer regular visits to individuals to help address social isolation.
An information session is being planned. To find out more about volunteering opportunities at BCH, call Coordinator Jill Rush on 5258 0874 or 0436 024 718 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.