Mike Stracey, Calvary Bruce Private Hospital ACT

Mike is a well beloved and well thought of Volunteer who is highly appreciated by both staff and patients.

I started volunteering in 2006 after caring for my father in his last days and when both my wife and I retired.  We needed some structure and variety in our lives alongside time to indulge in our own pursuits.  I approached Volunteering ACT which had a service to match my interests with suitable organisations.  The Red Cross stood out from the list they generated for me especially since I had been a long term blood donor and I was attracted to their non-judgemental, non-discriminatory approach to helping those in need.  Of the services they offered, providing hand and foot massage to hospital patients and visiting people who need company in nursing homes appealed to me and that kicked off my volunteering.  I still visit people in nursing homes through the Red Cross.  After a few years, they decided that massage was not a good match with their core business so they indicated their intention to withdraw that service.  However, all the hospitals found the service valuable and continued it under their own auspices so now I volunteer with both the Red Cross and Calvary Hospital.

This has fulfilled all my expectations.  What’s more, there were many more, unanticipated, benefits for me.  I meet a great variety of people – they are young and old, from different countries, communities, professions and skills as well as with such a divergence of experiences.   They have so much to share –  their history, their experiences, their opinions, their challenges to my own way of thinking and the windows they open to me of current conventions.  Hopefully, I reciprocate but that’s for others to judge.

In many ways, it would be appropriate to describe my motivation to volunteer as selfishness because I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my time or anything that would be more rewarding.

The environment in the facilities I visit is a caring one.  It’s care, in the widest sense of the word beyond their professional services, provided by staff to residents in their attitude, support, unstinting patience and empathy.  There’s never a sense of limited time to spend with a resident.  That care extends to the care between residents who support and encourage one another.  It never fails to inspire me not just in the facilities but beyond – to my dealings with family and people in other environments.


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