When Di Thompson left a full-time job she did not particularly enjoy, she knew that she wanted to do something meaningful with her time in retirement.
“I have always volunteered in some capacity with whatever spare time I have available as I believe that we need to give something back to the community we live in,” she said.
Di heard about a local non-profit organisation STAR Community Services and immediately signed up to become an owner-driver.
We asked Di about her volunteering experience.
What do you do in your volunteering role? Why is it special to you?
As a volunteer owner-driver, I get to drive STAR’s elderly clients in my own car. This volunteer role is very special for so many reasons. I truly enjoy that my service is making such a big difference to other people’s lives. Many elderly live on their own but have the desire to be independent and not call on their friends or relatives to drive them. By using community transport services like STAR, they are able to maintain their independence. They feel they are not inconveniencing any one. Not only do I drive them to their doctors’ appointments, I take them to the shops, to the hairdresser, swimming pool or even to have a coffee with a friend. They truly enjoy their outings. It keeps them connected to their friends and family.
What does preparation for your volunteer role require?
Since I drive my own vehicle I need to make sure my car is meeting all of STAR’s safety regulations. For example, it needs to be less than 10 years old, regularly serviced etc.
Personally, as a driver I complete CPR training every year and First Aid training every couple of years. Thankfully, STAR looks after all the cost and organisation of all the training for all the drivers. I also get reimbursed for the mileage as per the ATO rate.
Why do you enjoy most about volunteering?
For me volunteering is an exchange of energy. As a volunteer, I get as much out of volunteering as I give. I truly enjoy my conversations with the seniors. They have interesting stories and a perspective on world that can only come with experience. They are so thankful and express their appreciation very generously. I am grateful that I get to absorb all the niceness. Not a single day goes by when I don’t enjoy my work hence I am able to give my 110 per cent.
For more information on becoming, a volunteer owner-driver with STAR please come along to the Volunteer Recruitment and Information Day on Monday 27 February 2023. Please call Natalie Perrett on 0448 895 642 for more information.