Support Groups celebrate National Volunteer Week

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Support Groups celebrate National Volunteer Week

Support Groups celebrate National Volunteer Week

It was National Volunteer Week from 15 to 21 May – Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering.  

Support Group Coordinator Stacey Foster hit the road that week to visit Maitland Parkinsons Support Group and lunch with the Leadership Teams of the Port Stephens, Forster, Taree, and Port Macquarie Groups. 

While presenting them with Volunteer Week certificates, Stacey spoke of the crucial role of volunteers in our society. She noted that the theme of Volunteer Week this year was The Change Makers.     

“I just wanted to take some time to visit you in person and celebrate the Change Makers like you who are making a difference in your communities every day.  

“So what is a Change Maker? It’s someone who takes action to make the world a better place. Change Makers are the driving force behind social change. They achieve this by turning their passions into purpose and giving their time to make a real difference in our communities,” she said.  

“On behalf of myself and Parkinson’s NSW, we thank you for your commitment to your Support Groups. We acknowledge that it can be a lot of work and we think you are all doing a fantastic job.” 

Why volunteer? 

We asked Support Group leaders and participants to share their thoughts 

Phil Webster, Convenor, Forster-Tuncurry, since 2020: 

“To provide educational opportunities for Support Group participants to better understand the disease and to lead a more balanced life.” 

Mike Peart, President, Maitland, since 2022: 

“I have been able to help others with more severe Parkinson’s than I have at this stage.” 

Helen Tolhurst, Publicity Officer, Maitland, since 2022: 

“There are very few joys in having a Parkinson’s diagnosis, but one of them is the wonderful people you meet who are living with PD and their carers. They include some of the kindest, wisest, bravest and strongest people I have ever met.” 

Carol Brazel, Welfare Officer, Port Macquarie, since 2021: 

“To be part of a group of people who understand what living with PD means. Also to  make a difference in the lives of Parkinson’s families as we take this journey together. 

Kim Dahler, Leader, Port Macquarie, since 2021: 

“After 35 years as a self-absorbed capitalist, I thought it was time to do something for a Not For Profit – plus I dig older men with walkers!” 

Margaret McDonald, Leader, Armidale, since 2021: 

“My husband was diagnosed in 2020 and we joined the Group for him to communicate with like-minded people.  During that time the information and support received from the group has been exceptional.  I personally gain self-satisfaction from helping members and making sure that they are all feel supported.” 

Warwick Bisset, Assistant Coordinator, Goulburn, since 2017 

“It helps with my Parkinson’s symptoms by keeping the mind and body active and adds to my feeling of self-worth – reducing anxiety and depression. I feel like I am helping others.”

Larraine Rutledge, Leader, Macarthur, since 2014: 

“I have enjoyed my time with the people of Macarthur who have Parkinson’s and view them as a special ‘family’ in my life. Volunteering has enabled me to get to know those who probably would never have crossed my path, and being of help to them as they journey this side of their life”. 

 Jenny McIntyre, Leader, Eurobodalla, since February 2022: 

“I am honoured to participate in the Eurobodalla Parkinson’s Support Group. I have found it difficult at times but feel it is worth all the hassle when our members laugh and have a great time together, and support each other when needed.”  

 Sandra Elms, Vice President (2015 – 2018), President (2019 – 2022), Newcastle: 

“We all were enriched by the people we met at the Group. I put a lot of time energy and resources into the group and the Choir but would not have it any other way”. 

 Rosemary Beasley, Co-Coordinator (2019 – 2023), Management Committee Member, Lismore, since 2023: 

“I am glad to be able to give back to a Group I have gained so much from… friendship, help and support”.  

Carmel Mahoney, Step Up Committee, Kiama, since 2022: 

“As a person living with Parkinson’s, I am very happy to help out with the running of our local Support Group in Kiama. Many of those attending are worse off than me & I enjoy assisting them & trying to keep them thinking positively about their condition & not let it get them down. 

Betsy Rumble, Co-Leader, Eastern Suburbs YO, since April 2021: 

“Volunteering as a support group leader brings me tremendous satisfaction. Every time I see members connect with each other and share knowledge and understanding or when a speaker shares information that really hits with our Group, I know that people’s lives are made better and that my time is well spent.” 

Desley Banks, Companions Group Leader, Lismore, since 2022: 

“It is a real pleasure to be involved in the Lismore Parkinsons Support group.  The information sharing is vital to our members and their companions/partners.  To provide an opportunity for companions/partners to share in private discussions is vital to our group to assist our companions/partners manage PD”. 

Robyn Lindsay, Leader & treasurer, Manly Mosman, since 2007: 

“My satisfaction from these roles is the joy of having a social and happy environment for the people living with Parkinson’s and their carers. New friendships are formed and everyone is there for each other”. 

Rachael Fischer, Co-Leader, Belrose Young Onset Group, since August 2021: 

“Co-facilitating the Group is the greatest of privileges. Watching the Support Group find common ground in a safe and explorative space is not just rewarding but so very satisfying”.