Meals on Wheels thanks volunteers
It’s National Volunteer Week: a chance to celebrate the vital contribution of the almost six million Australian volunteers who collectively donate more than 600 million hours annually to help others. It’s also an opportunity for Meals on Wheels Australia to acknowledge the dedication of its 45,000-strong volunteer workforce. These legends bring nourishment, independence and connection to more than 200,000 vulnerable Australians each year.
President of Meals on Wheels Australia, Sharyn Broer, says without volunteers, the work of Meals on Wheels simply would not be possible. “The last 18 months have been particularly challenging for Meals on Wheels services,” she says. “However, the resilience and commitment of our incredible volunteer workforce has proved itself second to none.”
“From dealing with bushfires and floods to the COVID-19 pandemic, our volunteers stood up and continued to deliver our essential service at a time where it was needed most.
“We couldn’t support vulnerable Australians without them. And I think that’s pretty special. The knowledge that you’re making a real, tangible difference in your community.”
A rewarding experience
This year’s National Volunteer Week theme is “Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine”. It acknowledges that it’s time to celebrate and thank volunteers for the vital role they play in our lives. But also to reconnect to what’s important by giving our time to help others. Above all, it’s a chance to explore how we can support volunteers and the communities they help.
“We recognise the value volunteering has to both our customers and our volunteers,” Broer says. “From finding a meaningful purpose to staying engaged with their communities and making new friends; volunteering for Meals on Wheels is a rewarding experience.
“Many of our customers say seeing the friendly smile of our volunteers at their doorstep and having a conversation is more important to them than the meal.”
At a time where COVID-19 was causing feelings of loneliness and uncertainty, Meals on Wheels volunteers played a critical role in reducing social isolation and preventing malnourishment. Evidence has also shown that volunteering can improve psychological wellbeing. It can even provide a potential pathway to employment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic meant many of our high-risk volunteers had to stand down temporarily from their usual duties for their own health and safety,” Broer says. “Meals on Wheels services across the country are on the lookout for new volunteers to help cook, prepare and deliver meals to our vulnerable customers.”
If you’d like to make a difference in your community, contact your local service by contacting your state or territory peak body. To find out more information about Meals on Wheels Australia, head to mealsonwheels.org.au