I've noticed a few things changing in
the neighbourhood as I zip around in my power wheelchair in the
afternoons. It's colder. It's dark quicker. The leaves are turning
colours and falling. After such a glorious summer it is a bit
of a shock to have to pull on a warm jacket before I set off.
There are not so many people walking, or children playing in
the playground near the mini-golf course. But oh, it's lovely
to get out of the house for an hour, isn't it?
One coolish afternoon, a Salvation Army
man was standing outside Woolworths collecting money. I talked
to him for a while, noticing that many people gave without hesitation.
The funds he collected would be used to feed a family, or to
give counsel to a broken-hearted person. I presume he was one
of many volunteers.
We often complain that no one wants
to volunteer any more for service organisations or in the community.
Did you know that there are 420,000-plus people who care for
their disabled or elderly family members. That's without payment,
almost no recognition or value given. A mother doesn't volunteer
to care for her disabled child, or a husband to care for his
demented wife. This type of care goes far beyond volunteering.
It is love. It is duty. It motivates one of our country's biggest
One sunny afternoon two friends came
with a wheelbarrow, gardening tools and plants to spend an hour
tidying up my overgrown garden. They made no fuss, no headlines
and came unasked. Somehow in their busy schedules they found
time for an act of kindness.
Dianne fell out of her wheelchair and
lay by the side of the road while cars streamed by at 8 o'clock
in the morning. No one stopped. As she shared her story on my
radio show, she said how worthless she felt and how soul-destroying
the whole experience had been. But she is a bubbly, cheerful,
positive person and we laughed the whole way through the programme.
Hospice volunteers had their fundraising
money grabbed, but shoppers gave chase and caught the robbers.
What motivates some for good and others for evil? I don't know.
All I really know is that society would collapse if all the volunteers
withdrew their helping hands and refused to do anything unless
they were paid.
In June we celebrate Volunteer Awareness
Week from 15 to 21. As you move around the community, see if
you can spot them. It's a challenge because volunteers are usually
quiet, unassuming, and totally wonderful.