Student volunteering a win-win

When she’s not tied to her desk studying for her medical degree, Stella Ngyuen can be found hanging out with seniors at Corpus Christi aged care residence.

The 20-year-old is one of 50 secondary and tertiary students who volunteer their time with VMCH.  In VMCH’s aged care residences, student activities include accompanying seniors to Mass, shopping trips, helping with craft activities and games, or just keeping them company.  While at our op shops, students hone their customer service skills, and help with pricing and sorting clothes.

This week (August 14-20) is National Student Volunteer Week – celebrating young people who are striving to make change through volunteering.

Stella, who is studying her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Monash University, has a special interest in geriatrics – so volunteering in aged care was a logical choice.

“I just get this very peaceful feeling around older people.  I’m at uni most of the time and my circle of friends are from medical school, this is something completely different.  I’ve met so many people from other walks of life.  It’s really opened my eyes; hearing about their stories and those of their families.”

VMCH Volunteer Services Manager Bron Summers says student volunteers are great because they “bring a fresh, youthful perspective, plenty of energy and enthusiasm.”

“Students adapt well and are always willing to help,” Bron said.  “Residents also enjoy chatting to and receiving help from younger volunteers. When they see the world through younger eyes that can make a huge difference to their day and bring much happiness; alleviating the risk of loneliness and isolation.”

Stella admits the role has at times been challenging, particularly communicating with residents who have dementia.

“I look back at myself from the first time I came here, one year ago, and I feel more confident that I’m handling situations better and helping residents to feel more comfortable.”

Stella says she feels lucky to have formed firm friendships with some residents.

“I feel like having someone different to their family to spend time with brightens them up, especially if there’s a connection and they can see the volunteer genuinely enjoys being with them – they appreciate that.”

If you would like to learn more about volunteering with VMCH, call 1800 036 377 or visit: http://www.vmch.com.au/get-involved/volunteer-with-us/

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