Serendipity Photo Prompt 2015 #7 -Hands


Hands

image car cleaner
volunteer cleaner circa 1979

Hands make me think of the phrases. “Getting your hands dirty”, “Need a hand”, “Lending a hand” all to do with getting active and doing things, mainly to help others. Here in Australia we just had Volunteer Week when the efforts of volunteers are recognised.

I’ve done a little volunteering over the years. As young people my husband and I belonged to a railway enthusiast society and enjoyed many trips behind steam engines all around South Australia. In fact it’s how we met each other in the first place. We felt we should give something back so we became volunteers. We cleaned carriages, sold raffle tickets and worked in the catering team. We both have happy memories of those days.

I volunteered at a local radio station for several years which I really enjoyed. We’ve been involved in Neighbourhood Watch and other community groups too but compared to the effort some volunteers put in what we’ve done is nothing.

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently visiting David in hospital and over the last three months I’ve met the marvellous people who volunteer at the Cancer Support Centre and the Hospice Volunteers. I hasten to add David does not have cancer or anything terminal. He is getting better but he was referred to them when things were looking a bit grim and they have kept on popping in for  a chat or to bring him books. One day when he was sleeping  I went to their room at the hospital for a cup of tea and a chat. One of the volunteers was on her way to sit with a patient who was dying and didn’t have any family. It takes a special kind of person to do that.

Another lovely gentleman came up to see David because he thought he’d enjoy chatting to a man for a change, most of the volunteers are women. He told us that his wife is disabled so he looks after her at home. His idea of a break is to volunteer at the hospice or at a local retirement home. He says it’s no trouble, he has to go there anyway to visit his mother, who has dementia. Where would we be without people like this?

I don’t think governments realise how much more it would cost them to provide services if all volunteers were to walk off the job. St John’s volunteers at sporting and public events, volunteer ambulance drivers, volunteer firefighters, hospital auxiliary volunteers who raise huge amounts for new equipment.

What worries me though is who is going to do it when the current crop of volunteers has to stop? Any community meeting I go to it’s always a sea of grey heads. With retirement ages being raised and younger people needing to work more hours to make ends meet who will have the time to do it?

Ambulance Volunteers- Photo from SA Ambulance Service, 2015.
Ambulance Volunteers Photo from SA Ambulance Service, 2015.

Taswegian1957

I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.

8 comments

  1. Back then when we had still military draft service instead of voluntary military service in Germany as today, I had a discussion about that. Back then, young men had to do military service but if you didn’t want to, you had the option to do public service as you described, or you could skip military service if you was apprentice in a company anyway .

    One guy said to one of my friend something like “It’s a shame that you don’t do military service, you don’t help the country!” when he mentioned that he has chosen to volunteer in the public sector, and I defended my friend and said “Sure he does help, doing public volunteer work instead is exactly that, helping the people in our country!”.

    I have depest respect for people who do volunteer. The friend I mentioned did exactly that, helping and speak to people in hospice and hospitals. Could I do this kind of special voluntary service? No. Where would we be without people like this? I think in a world where people who once said that public service is a shame compared to military service, would regret this statement in the old age when they notice that staffers are not enought to care about them.

    I think military service is really important, I don’t trust the peace alone, you never know what will happen in the future. However, public volunteers do help here and now, they don’t play in a sandbox with weapons to learn for the worst case, they do help where the worst case is already there for a person (your example with the dying person).

    I did volunteer a few times after my apprenticeship when I became jobless. Although I did other public help for free such as managing computer networks for schools, repairing computers for non-profit organizations, disassembling and recycling of old technology devices, I did even teach a class of kids about computer security and internet once, just things I am good at. Apart from helping the public, I saw also my own benefits such as staying active, feeling that I am needed, having something to write in my future résumé and so on.

    Like

      • Yes, learning new skills is a good point too. I learned a lot of new things when I did the computer stuff for the public because I met people who taught me new things as I thaught them new things as well, we shared skills with each other. Yep, “win-win” for everyone.

        Like

      • I started to blog because I was volunteering at a local church and was asked to maintain their website on WordPress.org. I wanted to learn more without messing up their site so I got one of my own but decided WordPress.com would be easier for a beginner.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is a cool story. Now you are here with staying power as it seems. Always interesting to hear how others came here. To add something… wordpress.com is also more cost-effective as you probably know. I have the knowledge to set up a self-hosted installation and did that in the past quite often for myself or friends. But the problem with self-hosting is that you need to upgrade to better and more expansive hosting plans if traffic increases too much. Here we get it for free, for a hobby it’s better. Also the wordpress community is one of the friendliest I have seen in the whole internet 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like David is being well cared for. I wish him well. I’m sure you’re right about those volunteers becoming an endangered species. Most youngsters these days are all so busy just surviving, that they have no time to do such good deeds.

    Liked by 1 person

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