Stawell's volunteers making a difference

A donation of time is a real donation that is as valuable as money.

On International Volunteer Day in December 2013, volunteers at Grampians Community Health Centre were recognised for their work, and for the time and skills which they have contributed to people in Stawell and Ararat.

Local volunteers are part of the larger volunteering community which makes a significant contribution to Victoria.

A report prepared for the Victorian government estimated that volunteering contributed $4.9 billion to the state economy in 2006.

When volunteers sign on with the Grampians Community Health, they look forward to helping the Northern Grampians community by working with people in need of support.

Volunteers fulfil diverse roles such as visiting people from overseas who are newly arrived in Stawell and want to find their way around or to improve their English.

Other volunteers call in regularly to visit people who can't get out easily, and to have a cuppa and a chat.

Others drive people to medical appointments out of town or call in on families with a member with a mental health issue, just to be a friend.

Volunteers feel that the personal rewards of volunteering can be very satisfying, and can even determine the direction of a person's life.

It is all part of that Aussie ethic of giving a fair go to all. It gives hope. Research suggests that volunteering has many positive effects and can improve physical health and enhance social skills.

In a recent study, 61 per cent of people who volunteered at least five times a year said it helped reduce their stress levels.

By supporting people with the right training, Grampians Community Health prepares people for a rewarding start to their volunteering.

For some, this may result in transferable skills that will provide a springboard into different careers or further education. For others it will represent a new start.

Volunteers are encouraged to only volunteer the amount of time that they have to suit their lifestyles. Flexible hours are encouraged.

No qualifications are needed: just some spare time and the ability to get on with other people.

The next volunteer information session will be on Tuesday, March 18 at 9.30 am at Grampians Community Health.

Please call Sue or Julie-Anne at Grampians Community Health on 53587400 before Monday, February 24 to register and to find out more about the Welcome Program and the Talk Listen Care Program in Stawell and Ararat.

Information can also be obtained on the Do Care, Community Car and Employed Carers respite programs in Stawell.

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