Simon LeMaistre is a perfect example of how volunteering not only benefits the community, but also promotes personal growth.
The 66-year-old retiree (pictured top left) has been volunteering at Villa Maria Catholic Homes’ (VMCH) Wantirna aged care residence since 2012. Three says per week, rain, hail or shine, Simon travels from his home in Armadale to spend time with residents who have high levels of dementia in the Memory Support Unit.
His role includes playing ball games, gardening, walking and undertaking word puzzles and bingo with residents.
“I started the role thinking ‘I’ll give it a go’ and next thing you know I’m here for three years!” Simon said.
A former Storeman in his working life, Simon feels he may have missed a career calling.
“I didn’t like being a Storeman as much as I like doing this,” Simon said. “We’re all going to grow old and many of us may develop dementia later in life. I think it’s important to give your time now while you can because you may be the person in need of assistance later on.”
Simon described his role as “personally rewarding”. It has also been the catalyst for undertaking a Bachelor of Dementia Care – Australia’s first degree in dementia care – by correspondence with the University of Tasmania. He hopes the degree will help develop his knowledge in the field to make even more of a difference to the lives of people living with dementia.
Wantirna Lifestyle Assistant Sandra Davey described Simon as an “unassuming fellow with a lovely nature”.
“He’s a very patient man with a warm smile and a helping hand for everyone. His work is extremely valued to our staff and the residents just love Simon – they look forward to his days and his company.”
Simon is one of more than 500 volunteers who give their time to help not-for-profit organisation VMCH run its services in aged care and for children and adults with a disability.
Activities include helping to run opportunity shops, going for walks with aged care residents, visiting cafes with young people with acquired brain injuries, transportation assistance, and calling isolated people at home to have a chat.
Simon said anyone could give volunteering a go.
“You can make a difference just by being there.”
If you are interested in volunteering with VMCH, call 1800 036 377.