During National Volunteer Week 2015 we were fortunate to hear the words of Vasilis, an incredibly passionate volunteer at the Australian Greek Welfare Society. Vasilis’ story represents the power of volunteering on both a personal and community level.
Australian Greek Welfare Society Speech
“Distinguished guests, dear volunteers,
I welcome you to our gathering today to celebrate National Volunteer Week.
Allow me to express my warmest thanks to the Australian Greek Welfare Society and its staff that, from the moment I started volunteering, not only made me to feel both comfortable within my role, but also supported me when needed.
The change in my persona was so apparent from the beginning of my volunteering, that my daughter asked me: “Dad what has changed in your life that has made you so happy and cheerful?”
She couldn’t imagine, how volunteering could have such a beneficial impact on me.
Paul, the Apostle wrote in one of his epistles that: ‘’if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal’’.
This is what volunteering does; it gives you the opportunity to share with your fellow man the humanity and the solidarity to develop love within you.
Statistically, volunteers enjoy better health and longevity. And of course it is no wonder, since through our volunteering we are given the chance to live such moving moments and receive so much happiness. All this with a simple visit.
One particular moment is deeply inscribed in my memory!
At the end of every visit to my elderly friend, I offer him my hands to him to assist him to get up from his armchair so we can say good bye. That day, instead of getting up, he started kissing my hands and to offer me thanks and blessings. I felt awkward and the only thing I was able to say was that “I don’t do anything special apart from a simple visit”.
“A simple visit”, he said, repeating my words.
“A simple visit, that brings the sun to my life. You are the door that I go out to the world. Who gives time to listen to an old man? Who has the time?”
The minutes and the hours pass so hard in loneliness.
Our discussions are the best thing that happens to me. It is like my eyes are opening and seeing again. It is like I have an open horizon in front of me.
Perhaps even he cannot imagine that these simple friendly visits also make me grateful, particularly, when he shares his wisdom and his experiences with me. They fill me with happiness and they also give my life meaning. I feel more fulfilled as a human being.
In the years of my retirement, I continue to offer my assistance, to learn new things and to network. I am given the chance to remain an active member of the community.
My work, our work as volunteers, is recognised and celebrated, like it is here today.
In all my visits, our talks more or less have a tone of honesty and confession.
Confessions from the bottom of the heart.
They fill you with love and understanding!
I feel so proud!
And this is the biggest and most expensive payment!
They say that when a person gets old they stop loving. I believe the opposite to be true. The person gets old when they stop loving.
Volunteering proves that greatly.
We give love, we receive longevity.
Best wishes to us all.”