Carol Pickering is a volunteer at Gateway Services, Wantirna. She has been supporting people with a disability at our services since 1979.
The 74-year-old grandmother of two has seen a lot of changes over 39 years and still gets a real kick out of sharing her love of craft with the people she supports.
When did you become a volunteer?
“When Wantirna first opened they called for volunteers to take people shopping. There were five of us from our Scoresby Uniting Church (that) offered to go. We used to go to Wantirna and meet the people who wanted to go shopping for the day. I enjoyed it so much.
“I’m the only one left of those five volunteers. “
Have you seen a lot of changes over the years?
“Oh yes, I saw it (Gateway Services) getting built up and then watched as they pulled it down. I shed a tear when they did that. I watched them build a new one. I have taken photos over the years of different people and I hope to put it in a scrapbook.”
What do you do at Gateway Wantirna?
“I do a lot of craft. I used to take things down each week as something for them to do and try it out. I worked with people trying to do things that would keep them active. I would take the sewing machine and overlocker down and let them sit at the overlocker and sew things.
“We’ve made a dollhouse just out of shoe boxes, made photograph frames and lots of things.”
What do you enjoy about volunteering?
“Volunteering gives me a way of getting out of the house, keeping me active. I have a lot of craft stuff, 5000 buttons given to me and I’m determined to use it up. I have always been glad to take it down there, to Gateway and share it with them.
“I enjoy being active with them and helping them. Working with them. I’ve always been a very crafty person.”
What’s the most rewarding thing about your volunteer work?
“All the memories of all the different people, perhaps. In the hostel there was a lady who was both blind and deaf, she’d knitted me a jumper, I had it on today. I’d learnt how to do sign language on her hand and I was able to spell out words to her.”
In May, Carol is moving house and so will finish up at the Gateway program. “I’m definitely going to miss them. I just love working with the people there and all the love and happiness that exists.”
Although she’s moving on from Gateway, Carol isn’t finished with her volunteering journey. She’s moving to Berwick in June and is “quite excited” to take up a volunteer role at our Berwick aged care residence.
If you would like some more information about volunteering with VMCH, call 1800 036 377 or click here.