If you’re a Kilmore local, you’ve probably seen this friendly face around town.
Elizabeth Stewart has been volunteering at the Kilmore Hospital Op Shop for nearly two years, and now shares the co-coordinator role, helping to keep the shop in fine form. But like almost every facet of life in the last few years, volunteering took a massive hit thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was previously a volunteer at Dianella Hostel for about 18 months, and then COVID-19 happened,” Elizabeth said.
“It was hard. Actually, my mother in law had been at Dianella for a few months and we were having to talk to her on the phone through the window. She had dementia so she didn’t know what was going on.
“That was hard.”
Elizabeth had spent over a year with Dianella residents, enjoying games, singing and cooking, just to name a few activities, helping to make their stay more enjoyable and supporting the staff. So, when volunteers were no longer able to visit Dianella due to the pandemic, Elizabeth turned her focus elsewhere.
“I applied to volunteer at the Kilmore Hospital Op Shop and began in October 2021.
“The other volunteers here are just lovely people. We laugh so much – it’s like therapy in here.
“We’ve had quite a few people give positive feedback. One lady just last week said ‘this is just the best op shop’ and I said ‘oh, why’s that?’
“And she said ‘it’s so much fun coming in here, everyone is always friendly and people want to talk to you.’
“It’s a really good atmosphere to work in. There’s real comradery.”
While there’s enough work to keep Elizabeth busy all week, she spends her Thursdays and Fridays, and some Saturdays, in the shop.
“Other than that, we come in at different times if we need to work on things while the shop is closed.”
With no sign of slowing down, Elizabeth is keen to get more volunteers on board to enjoy the fun at the shop.
“We are keen for more volunteers. I got my sister involved, she comes up every Friday from Mickleham. She’s fantastic. I’d like another couple of her.”
“I think it comes back to wanting to give something back to the community that you live in. I’m sure there are people out there who are lonely and at home all the time, and if they got involved as a volunteer a whole new world would open up for them.
“If people reach out, I think they’d be surprised at just how beneficial it can be.
“I really enjoy it and I can’t see myself throwing in the towel any time soon. I’m sure I’ll be here for a few more years.”
Volunteering opportunities at Kilmore District Health have opened back up following the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in finding out more and applying, visit https://www.kilmoredistricthealth.org.au/volunteers. Alternatively, email email@example.com and a staff member will be in touch with you.