Childers Neighbourhood Centre volunteer Dorethy Abell has hung up her keys after 13 years of providing transport and friendly companionship to the region’s elderly participants in the Isis Community Care Social Support Day Program.
Dorethy said she started volunteering for the program soon after selling her business in Townsville and moving to the region with her husband Neville in November 2009.
“Basically I was bored because when you work, you know, five days a week or sometimes six, and then you just sit at home and you get everything done at home,” she said.
“I was used to talking to people, so I thought, oh, I'd like to do something different.”
That’s when Dorethy heard of a volunteering opportunity at the Childers Neighbourhood Centre, picking up day program participants in the centre’s car, taking them to appointments, shopping, and respite activities.
Dorethy said she understood how important it was for the participants to get out of the house, and to have conversation.
“Sometimes I'd pick them up and we'd go the long way so they could have a little bit of a ride to see something different.
“Or if I had to pick someone up out of town, I'd pick someone up in town, and if they didn't have an appointment, I'd take them with me so that they could get a drive.
“Because otherwise they don't get to go anywhere.”
The value of company and conversation was not lost on Dorethy who, as her husband’s carer, also appreciated the chance to get out and meet new people.
“It's a bit like respite for me, so I can understand when people say they like to have a bit of respite from the person they’re caring for,” Dorethy said.
“That's why when they come in [to the centre], that's their respite, they come in here so they can get to talk to other people.”
Dorethy said, though she didn’t have any favourites among the people she’d spent time with on the program, she had made some good friends along the way.
“I can remember one old chappy, he wouldn't put his seatbelt on all the time, so I used to tell him to put his seatbelt on,” she recalled.
“And this day he was having trouble putting it on, so I got out of the car and I leaned over to put it on and he said, oh, I thought you were gonna give me a cuddle.
“And I said, you wish!”
Now that Dorethy has retired, she can focus on her health and spend time with her husband, daughter and grandson.
“I think the oldies, they're only going to miss me because I used to bake a morning tea and bring in that all the time,” Dorethy said.
“They say, oh, we're gonna miss you, and I say no you're not, you’re going to miss my cooking!”
Anyone interested in volunteering for Isis Community Care Social Support Day Program or Childers Meals on Wheels can contact the Childers Neighbourhood Centre here for available opportunities.