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National Volunteer Week: Four Greek Australians share their volunteering experiences

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By Argyro Vourdoumpa.

From keeping company to elderly people in the community, to delivering meals, assisting in national emergencies and keeping the country’s multicultural communities alive, thousands of Australians are volunteering their time for the common good and without financial gain.

Volunteering Australia estimates that in an ordinary year, volunteers contribute an estimated 743 million hours to the community.

“It is more important than ever that we thank and recognise volunteers this National Volunteer Week,” CEO of Volunteering Australia, Adrienne Picone said, highlighting that this challenging year has shone a spotlight on the power of the unpaid workforce in Australia.

On the occasion of National Volunteer Week (18-24 May) The Greek Herald, caught up with volunteers Darcy, Natasha, Nick and Hara who collectively have more than half a century of volunteering experience.

Greek Welfare Centre SA Volunteer, Darcy Patsalos with Volunteer coordinator Jenny Ladas.

Darcy Patsalos, Meals Delivery Driver, Greek Welfare Centre SA 

Darcy (Anastasis) Patsalos has been volunteering for 23 years as a Delivery Driver for the Greek Meals Program, with South Australia’s Greek Welfare Centre ‘St Philothei.’

“I love volunteering, I get to meet all kinds of people. It is a pleasure to know that I have made that person’s day, even for a few minutes. That face-to-face contact, they see a smiling face. I think it is good to make that person feel important. That they matter and that someone cares,” said Darcy.

“Volunteers are vital in supporting and delivering the services of the Greek Welfare Centre. Without their commitment and passion for helping others in the community, we wouldn’t be able to assist our clients as well as we do. We love our volunteers,” said the centre’s Volunteer Coordinator, Jenny Ladas.

Victoria State Emergency Services Volunteer, Natasha Bradley (nee Kosmopoulos).

Natasha Bradley (nee Kosmopoulos), VICSES Volunteer

Natasha is one of the country’s 200,000 emergency services volunteers who dedicate their time to the community.

She joined the Victoria State Emergency Services (VICSES) community seven years ago wanting “to protect the local community” and this is what she has been doing ever since.

“It’s a great way to meet people within your community. You get to spent a bit of time together and it’s really like a massive family you never knew you had. VICSES has also given me plenty of opportunities to learn skills such as crew leading, using a chainsaw and steep angle rescue.

“Give it a go, put in some effort and make the most of it. I guarantee you won’t look back!” Natasha told The Greek Herald.

Michelle Church, Chief Executive St Basil’s Homes (SA), presenting Nick Roussianos with a Volunteer Service Award.

Nick Roussianos, Driver & Coordinator of Social Support men’s group, St. Basil’s Homes SA

Nick Roussianos, 84, originally from the Greek island of Zakynthos, migrated to Australia in the 1950’s. For the last 23 years, he has been volunteering with St Basil’s Homes in South Australia as a Driver and Coordinator of Social Support men’s group for the organisation’s ‘Plateia’ program.

“After my wife and I sold our farm in Riverland and came to Adelaide to be closer to our kids, I knew I had to do something. Since I’m not one who can stay at home, I thought I should help our community’s elderly. I started as a ‘Meals on Wheels’ volunteer and joined the ‘Plateia’ program later on,” said Mr. Roussianos.

“Unfortunately young people don’t volunteer their time as much as my generation does. I wonder what is going to happen when people like myself are not be able to help any more. Volunteering gives me life. Who knows, maybe I turn 120.”

“Nick is the quintessential volunteer role model. He is an integral link with our clients’ cultural identity and linguistic needs,” St. Basils Homes SA Operations Manager, Con Katsambis, said.

Multicultural Community Council SA volunteer Hara Mollas with Mrs. Vicky Drouganis.

Hara Mollas, Community Visitor, Multicultural Community Council SA

Harula (Hara) Mollas is currently doing her Honours degree in psychology and apart from being a Lifeline volunteer, she is also a Community Visitor volunteer.

Every fortnight, for the last 18 months, she has been visiting 90-year-old Vicky Drouganis, from Sparta, in the nursing home, where she currently lives.

“I have realised that although people may physically age, psychologically people remain the same. Elderly people still have humour, worries and similar thoughts to younger people. I have also learnt to be patient when I interact with elderly people as their memories may be reduced,” Hara said.

“Volunteering is vital because it unites society together. In a multicultural place like Australia, volunteering is very useful as volunteers get exposed to a completely different group of people. It also means that people receive free help, and that volunteers gain experience. I love helping people, it makes me happy.

“Giving out a part of yourself without expecting anything in return is truly rewarding.”

For volunteering opportunities in Australia visit: https://govolunteer.com.au

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