Retirees reap the rewards of volunteering

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This week, we celebrate National Volunteer Week (17 – 23 May 2021). It’s a week to thank everyone who dedicates their time to make our communities happier, healthier, and better places to live.

Research reveals there are many benefits to volunteering. These include reduced symptoms of depression, better self-reported health and lower mortality, particularly for the newly retired and older generations.

Volunteering expands people’s social networks and can be a great way to share your professional skills or explore a particular passion. Volunteering is diverse and flexible and there is a range of opportunities available to suit the time you have available.

For Deborah and Brian, volunteering is the perfect way to explore their hobbies and give back to their communities.

Deborah cares for sick, injured birds before releasing them back into the wild

‘When I retired and finished all the house renovations we wanted to do, I knew I wanted something more than to just sit at home and read books.

I wanted to do something I would enjoy, and that would give back to society.’

Deborah volunteers with WIRES, an animal rescue organisation that helps rehabilitate injured, sick or orphaned wildlife.

‘I’m really passionate about the environment. I’m concerned about habitat loss, so this makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.’

Over time, Deborah’s role has grown to be more than just a bird rescuer.

‘Over the twelve years I’ve been with WIRES, I’ve held roles as a bird coordinator, a volunteer trainer, the chairperson for my branch, and I joined a small team of volunteers that develop guidelines for caring for birds.

What I love about my role is the learning that comes with caring for animals. I have learnt so much more about various native species during my time.’

Deborah encourages everyone – young people, seniors, workers or retirees – to consider volunteering.

‘No matter what organisation you join, there are always people there to support you. There are always others who share the same passion as you.’

Brian helps to deliver furniture to people who are rebuilding their lives.

For Brian, volunteering is a way to stay active and meet new people. After moving to Australia to retire, he decided to explore new opportunities.

‘I didn’t know anyone when I moved here. So after spending too much time talking to my cats, I decided to look for opportunities to volunteer.’

Brian found a volunteering position at Generous and the Grateful – an organisation that provides furniture and appliances to people who are looking to rebuild their lives.

Brian mostly helps in the warehouse. He receives deliveries, fixes furniture and loads trucks.

‘It lets me interact with lots of other people. I feel like I am doing a valuable job for both the donors and the recipients.’

Brian has also made a life-long friend through volunteering. They share a love for music and used to play together in a big band.

‘I play piano and he plays the trombone so we spend lots of our time discussing different techniques and talking about our favourite pieces of music.’

For both Deborah and Brian, volunteering is giving them the opportunity to enjoy their lives and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways.

To join them and make a difference, find your volunteering opportunity on the NSW Volunteering website.