News & Events

Volunteering must be a win-win affair

December 10, 2016

OCAV’s volunteer coordinator Kim D’Angelis knows a thing or two about volunteering. She started her time at OCAV volunteering at the Leith Park village in St Helena, doing weekly exercise classes, before taking on the coordinators job a year later in 2009. She also volunteered at the Northern Hospital as a companion to people waiting in the emergency area. She discovered then, and remains convinced now, that volunteering has to be of mutual benefit to work.


The 165 volunteers she works with across the four villages add immeasurable benefits to the villages, particularly at Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility. What is just as important is that the volunteers themselves gain something from their experience and Kim works hard to ensure that happens.


In the seven years she has worked as volunteer coordinator the rules and regulations around volunteering have added layers of bureaucracy, but Kim cuts through it to ensure that the volunteer and residents are well matched. After all, volunteers are coming into the homes of the residents and they have to feel at home and be welcome.


“We go through the interviews and all the paperwork and it can seem a good match, but it isn’t until the volunteer begins that you can see it click or not. It is important that our volunteers leave our villages, or their task, satisfied; so if the first plan doesn’t work, we try something else,” Kim said. “It is really about matching the expectations of OCAV and the volunteers.”


Kim starts each day at work with an advantage many people ‘managers’ don’t have. Her volunteers all want to be there and they don’t do it for the money.


“The people I work with all have the best intentions and that makes mine the best job in the world,” she said. “They are here because they want to contribute something back to their community and that’s what they do. I am constantly amazed at the willingness of people to make their community a better place.”


The 165 OCAV volunteers range in age from 20 to OCAV residents in their 80s. Many OCAV residents are themselves volunteers and 90 are from outside the villages, including Liam Nixon who is featured in the December 2016 newsletter.


Some have been volunteering for many years and others, especially students come for shorter spells depending on study commitments. Kim encourages feedback and ideas volunteers might have to improve the role.


“We had a student who came to us and ran an art therapy class at Liscombe House. She saw the potential of this project and drew up the strategy for the ongoing program. She had to leave, but we now have a team of three young people, all university students, who run the program fortnightly,” she said.


Kim loves working with the residents and the volunteers and she feels a little protective of her ‘patch’. “These people come into the village, especially to Liscombe House and they bring with them a bit of the outside world. Their brightness and willingness to contribute can change the atmosphere and bring a new feel to the room. They are wonderful and so are the residents who welcome them so warmly.”


If you would like to volunteer please contact Kim on 9433 1120.

The apartments are beautiful, with lovely, open and bright rooms, and a balcony for growing plants in pots. I am starting to make my apartment into a home.

– Catherine, Leith Park

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