BaptistCare Port Kembla impacts an average of 70 lives daily in the area as a safe and welcoming place where people living with disadvantage can address key issues and meet their basic needs. We hear how it helps everyday. What’s not so common is the stories and paths that lead our gracious volunteers to show up on a regular basis and lend a helping hand.
One of the many volunteers that do so is Vicki Balfour, a full-time carer for her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago. Together, they are navigating the journey of dementia, yet every Wednesday Vicki organises to have her husband care for so she can continue her volunteer work at BaptistCare, which brings a smile to her face.
“It makes a difference to my life as I can give back to people who haven’t been as fortunate as I have been,” said Vicki, who began volunteering around seven years ago.
“I’ve had an associate diploma in Community Welfare since 1990. I had that grounding and it’s a field I love. I really love the social aspect. I love the people, and I love to see them better off the next time I see them,” said Vicki.
“What stands out is each person is no different to you and I, they just haven’t been as lucky as us. So I go in there, and it’s always a good day,” said Vicki.
Dianne Frohmuller, Centre Manager at BaptistCare Port Kembla, says Vicki brings a beautiful energy whatever the task she takes on, from JP and scribe services to serving up a hot meal.
“Vicki loves talking and laughing with the customers that visit BaptistCare. She is always joyful and serves on the Bain Marie providing lunch to the customers,” said Dianne.
“Vicki has formed friendships with other volunteers and staff, and is very much an integral part of the team. I believe BaptistCare gives her an opportunity continue working in the field she loves, and help people from all walks of life who visit BaptistCare.”
Beyond the provision of a simple meal, Vicki appreciates the extent to which BaptistCare delivers. “I’ve seen people who wouldn’t have a hot meal a day, or a jumper in the Winter. But they don’t just come for the meal. They come for the companionship and the social side of things,” said Vicki.
“BaptistCare provides a lot for people; meals, showers, clothing, casework, legal aid, community mental health, a nurse, haircuts, and holistic help, and perhaps more importantly, friendship and community.”
“There is nowhere else like it in Port Kembla,” says Vicki.
“There’s no discrimination between the workers and the volunteers and the people who come to BaptistCare. They get a really good service, and are treated with real care and respect.”
“It’s two-fold,” she said. “I have never heard any disrespect or rudeness directed towards staff or volunteers.”
“You couldn’t even imagine some of the experiences that people have been through. Sometimes it’s just one hurdle after another, and for customers to be so nice and respectful, it’s just a bonus,” said Vicki.
As a volunteer, there is always something to do. “From week to week it’s the same, but different. I offer a JP service and scribe – some of the customers require help in that area. I serve meals, I wash up, wipe down benches, if someone wants to have a chat, that’s what I do,” said Vicki.
“Sometimes someone will have something amazing happen in their lives and they just can’t wait to tell you. I love it.”
“I will be there for a long time. We have a fabulous team.”
BaptistCare HopeStreet would like to acknowledge the powerful and important work that 1000 volunteers, just like Vicki, contribute to their communities, right across their care organisation. National Volunteer Week is from 21 – 27 May, 2018.