Held from May 9-15 this year, National Volunteer Week encourages Australians to embrace the theme ‘Give Happy, Live Happy’, as research shows volunteers live happier, healthier lives.
This is certainly the case for Therapy Focus volunteer, Douglas McLerie, who smiles as broadly as Therapy Focus mascot, Sunny the Sunflower, when he’s wearing the suit and entertaining the public. To celebrate Volunteer Week, we asked Douglas a few questions to share an insight into his experiences as a volunteer with Therapy Focus since 2013.
What do you enjoy about volunteering?
Firstly, you get to be part of a team. I’ve found the people I’ve met volunteering are some of the kindest I’ve ever met and great to work with. I also enjoy the fact I’m contributing to a greater cause and that I’m part of something. Most importantly, it always leaves me with a great feeling. Oh and it keeps me young!
Can you share one of your favourite memories of volunteering?
I always enjoy being Sunny the Sunflower of course, but I have a fond memory from Christmas gift wrapping, which I also help out with each year. A couple arrived at the gift wrapping stall with a bicycle they had purchased for their child. We all laughed at first, but then me and my fellow volunteers came up with a great idea to tackle the situation. We suggested they get a photo of the bike with Santa, who was in centre at the time, then place a copy of the photo in a card with a message from Santa that said the bike was too big to put under the Christmas tree, so it was out in the shed. The couple thought the idea was brilliant and made a sizeable donation to Therapy Focus to thank us. It might sound trivial, but this is one of the things I love about volunteering – meeting people and making them smile.
What would you say to others who were considering volunteering?
I tell people to look at it as a hobby. That’s what it is for me. Something I do in my spare time that I really enjoy. I also say to just get involved – you’ll be glad you did!
To find out more about volunteering with Therapy Focus, visit our Volunteer page.
For more information about National Volunteer Week visit www.volunteeringaustralia.org/nvw/