IN NURSING her husband Graeme in his final days, Mary Douglas discovered a lot about herself she had not realised before and the honour in caring for another person.
Ms Douglas said she could not have cared for Graeme at home without support from Ballarat Hospice Care. She began volunteering with the palliative care organisation as a support worker more than 10 years ago as a way to give back and, in turn, found she learned so much more.
"I learnt with my husband a great strength I was not aware of - I got tested a lot at the time. I now travel that journey with other people and know perhaps they just need support and reassurance," Ms Douglas said.
"It's very fulfilling and a privilege to be allowed to travel that journey with others."
It's very fulfilling and a privilege to be allowed to travel that journey with others.Mary Douglas, Ballarat Hospice Care volunteer
Ms Douglas is one of the few Ballarat Hospice Care volunteers able to continue her work amid COVID-19 lockdowns, primarily in helping with transport.
Hospice is celebrating the work of its diverse helper base this National Volunteer Week. There are the supportive care volunteers like Ms Douglas, who offer companionship, but Hospice also has people working its op shop, running fundraising events, cleaning motor vehicles and coordinating the warehouse that supplies the op shop.
Ms Douglas said she had always gravitated to volunteering and helping out when needed, including with the fire brigade. She encouraged everyone to try a few volunteer roles and find one they feel fits to make a positive difference.
Get in and have a go...there is something somewhere for everyone. You fill in where's needed.Mary Douglas, Ballarat Hospice Care volunteer
"Get in and have a go...there is something somewhere for everyone," Ms Douglas said.
"It could be at the information centre where you learn so much about the city you live in and the history of areas. It could be the arts centre or the fire brigade. You fill in where's needed."
Ms Douglas said her experience with Hospice reinforced anybody's life could change from day to day and sometimes even more so for those navigating end of life care.
She said often a smile, an open mind and kind heart could make a massive difference and the rewards, the feeling of helping others, was great.
For Hospice, Ms Douglas said there were many ways a volunteer could show compassion to carers and families in preparing for the death of someone they loved: "often for them, it's just to be able to share and having someone to talk to."
Ballarat Hospice Care chief executive officer Carita Clancy said volunteers were a highly valued part of the organisaton's service and connection to our community.
Face-to-face interactions with Ballarat Hospice Care's volunteers have paused due to COVID-19. The organisation remains in contact with volunteers.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call, 5333 1118
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