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Countless ways to make a difference on the Coast

February 2020

The Rise Web

From walking orphaned dogs to lending a hand in the kitchen to help local folk in need, there are countless ways to volunteer your time and get involved in the local community in and around Wood Glen.

A staggering array of volunteer roles are available and volunteering is popular with residents of modern retirement communities such as Wood Glen because it opens up a new world of social contacts, is a great way to stay active, and can be very rewarding.

“Our motto is that there is a role for everyone,’’ said Volunteering Central Coast Chief Executive Fiona Morrison.  “There are about 350 volunteer positions available at any one time on the Central Coast through the 100 organisations we represent.’’

And with estimated 46,000 volunteers, the NSW Central Coast is one of the nation’s most civic-minded regions, according to Ms Morrison.

Across the road from Wood Glen, you can explore the world of volunteering at a Volunteer Expo at Erina Fair Shopping Centre on May 27. An anticipated 40 organisations will showcase how extensive and varied volunteering can be.

Wood Glen Retirement Village manager Vanessa Fordyce says that far from slowing down in retirement, many residents find themselves making new connections and continuing to lead full and rich lives.

“At Wood Glen we encourage people to take advantage of our own busy social calendar as well as become involved in the broader community. Volunteering can be an exciting as well as rewarding way of doing that,’’ Ms Fordyce said.

Wood Glen residents John and Ros Oakey moved to Wood Glen from Port Macquarie in mid-2019 and have already immersed themselves in the Central Coast volunteering scene.

“The quickest way to get to know other people and find out what’s going on in the community is to join a group of volunteers,’’ said Mrs Oakey.

“Everyone is so friendly and there’s a zillion things you can do to socialise within Wood Glen, but I also like to continue meeting other people, and being challenged in areas of my specific interests.’’

Mrs Oakey, a nurse transitioning into retirement, incorporates face-to-face counselling as one of her volunteer duties a day a week, while Mr Oakey volunteers as a bus attendant for seniors travelling to activities at North Gosford – in between golf, tennis, surfing and bike riding.

‘’I like to keep active and I had an afternoon free every week that I could volunteer,’’ said Mr Oakey.

Having completed a one-day course he also teaches retirees basic internet skills. “Many places are desperate for volunteers and it’s great to give back,’’ he said.

Ms Morrison, who is based at nearby Gosford, said studies  reveal 95 per cent of people report an increase in their feelings of well-being due to volunteering.

“The range of roles available means that people can pursue their passions as well as make worthwhile contributions to their communities.’’

The 116-year-old Nora Head Lighthouse for instance has volunteer tour guides who delve into the history of the lighthouse, shipwrecks, anecdotes and Aboriginal culture.

Gosford RSL’s Max Potential program, which helps students to develop projects to improve their community, also makes use of volunteer mentors.

Dog lovers meanwhile can help out the Central Coast Animal Care Facility at Erina. Volunteers perform a variety of tasks from walking dogs, laundry duties and simply spending time with some of the animals to assist with their socialisation.

The 30-plus kennel facility at Pateman Road is open every day and induction for volunteers is conducted twice a week.

Volunteering Central Coast has these points to considering when volunteering:

How much time do you have? Some roles are flexible while others require you to volunteer on a regular day and time every week. Remember, you can volunteer for as little as 10 minutes a day, an hour a week, or for several days a week.

How far can you travel?  Most organisations don’t reimburse travel to and from the volunteering location, although if you need to travel as a part of your volunteering, this may be reimbursed if you are using your own vehicle.

What sort of organisation do you want to volunteer for? Choose an organisation that has similar values to yours. It’s okay to specify that you aren’t comfortable working in certain settings or activities.

What activities do you enjoy? Do you enjoy repetitive tasks or do you like variety? Are you happier being inside or do you like to get outside? Do you enjoy meeting lots of new people or would you rather get to know a few people?

What skills can you bring? Some people have skills or expertise developed either through work or as a hobby. It’s worth mentioning any skills you have when applying for a role.

Do you have anything you can’t do?  People have different abilities. Often organisations can accommodate different abilities, so be upfront.