Friends for Fleurieu elders

SMILES ALL ROUND: Volunteers Jan Bache and Donna Speck alongside ECH worker Laura McLeod. Jan and Donna have been volunteering at ECH Victor Harbor for over a year and have thoroughly enjoyed their experience.
SMILES ALL ROUND: Volunteers Jan Bache and Donna Speck alongside ECH worker Laura McLeod. Jan and Donna have been volunteering at ECH Victor Harbor for over a year and have thoroughly enjoyed their experience.

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Jan Bache and Donna Speck are volunteers at the Victor Harbor ECH, working in the Day Program which assists older people who may feel socially isolated due to mobility restrictions, dementia, or memory loss.

They help conduct a number of activities such as gardening, arts, crafts, games, or cooking, and communicate with members to create a happy and supportive environment.

ECH worker Laura McLeod said games like Bingo of Jenga can help with neuroplasticity and have significant benefits for those suffering with dementia.

Jan and Donna have been volunteering at the ECH for over a year, and cannot speak highly enough about it.

Once a person starts to volunteer, I think, they'll want to keep on doing it

ECH volunteer JAN BACHE

"You do it to know that you're contributing to the community. It's just fun meeting people, and you know that the people you're meeting need someone to brighten their day sometimes," Jan said.

Jan said a major incentive behind volunteering at ECH is when she sees someone gain back a memory through her help. Jan had previously worked at Southern Volunteering as a referral officer, but became aware of the ECH program and knew she wanted to be involved.

"It's fun, it's a lot of fun working here. I don't know how to explain it, it just makes you feel very very happy."

"It feels like part of your family," Donna chimed in. "You always go home having had a laugh, and they laugh too." Donna is currently studying individual personal care and said she was 'intrigued' by the organisation's work with dementia members.

"My mother in law's got dementia and I thought, 'I need to find out more about it', so I did," she said.

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Donna and Jan both agreed that volunteers play an integral role in our community, and highlighted that operators like Cancer Cars, The Whale Centre, CFS, and sporting clubs rely heavily on volunteer support.

"There's so many organisations down here that wouldn't revolve around if they didn't have volunteers, because they really are the crutch or the backbone of a lot of organisations," Jan said.

"Once a person starts to volunteer, I think, they'll want to keep on doing it. I think it's a great part of my life anyway, I'm quite thrilled.

"I think the Fleurieu is well covered with volunteers, it's excellent the amount that people who go and do volunteering."

"Plus, if I win bingo I get a Snickers," Donna added.