News & Events

Pen pals take off like a rocket

May 6, 2020

Within days of volunteer coordinator Kim D’Angelis putting out a call to volunteers and residents to see whether they would like to be a part of a pen pal program, she was inundated with offers of support and requests to participate.

“I always knew we had a connecting community but the enthusiasm is overwhelming,” Kim said.

To date, around 28 volunteers have been recruited and 47 residents have put their hand up – and the numbers keep growing.

“Our aim is to match volunteers and residents who have similar interests so that they can learn more about each other, have some fun and also feel supported during this difficult time,” Kim said.

One volunteer is Charlotte Chidell who has linked with Jann Nicholson in Liscombe House.

Charlotte retired in 2016 and moved to North Eltham from East Burwood. For her, the move could not have come soon enough as the area in which she lived changed overnight from being a bush block to being developed into a massive multi-level housing and shopping complex.

“North Eltham is rather like coming home for me, it reminds a bit of England with lots of greenery, trees and quirky houses,” Charlotte said. She came to Australia for a year’s working holiday from England in 1981. She ended up staying and marrying an Australian.

Her first interaction with OCAV came when she drove past Leith Park and thought it would be an ideal place to volunteer. She met local resident Bev Ward and started going to St Katherine’s church with her.

“It seemed a natural extension to get involved with the regular chapel at Liscombe House, and occasionally relieving Bev for Happy Hour,” Charlotte said.

With an interest in dementia and supporting people living with dementia, the combination led to her becoming a volunteer which she does alongside her nursing work. She works four nights a fortnight at a Residential care in Croydon.

Outside her volunteering and nursing, Charlotte is a member of community orchestras, music groups and a writing group.

For more information about the Keeping In Touch pen pal program, please contact Kim on


Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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