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NEWS: Volunteers: the Heart and Soul of our Nation

Where would we be without volunteers?  They are the heart and soul of our nation and indeed, the world.

No matter how much of their budgets various governments put into community services without volunteers they would grind to a halt.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded four and a half million, over 32%, of Australians over 18 years of age were committed to in excess of 704 million hours of voluntary work in 2000 and the numbers are increasing each year.  Here at MercyCare we have more then 150 volunteers tirelessly working away in diverse roles in over 20 distinct areas.

The next time you run in to a volunteer you know, give them a little praise.  Here are a few ideas on how to do just that;

Take time to get to know our volunteers.  Volunteers often work behind the scenes or are so unobtrusive that they slip under the radar.  If you don't know who they are - find out.  Introduce yourself.  Find out exactly what role they play in your department.  Ask them to share their experience of volunteering - how long they've been with MercyCare, what motivated them to volunteer, what keeps them coming back each week.

Take the time to thank our volunteers.  It's all too easy to take our volunteers for granted.  As someone once said, "Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone."

Include them in your team.  If your team is having a celebration, a special event or just having a coffee break invite the volunteers to be a part of it.  If you've got news to share, share it with the volunteeers too.  If you're planning for the future include the volunteers - they might have new and different perspectives to offer.

Talk creatively.  Are the ways a volunteer could be used to add value to the service your department offers.  Remember, volunteers are not there to take the place of paid employees but add something special to support our clients, residents and patients.  Think outside the box and share your ideas.

Put out the word.  Let your friends and relatives know there are wonderful opportunities for volunteering with MercyCare and help them to get in touch with us.  There's always room on board for folk willing to lend a hand.

Think about volunteering yourself.  Doubtless many of you are already volunteering at schools, sporting and service clubs, churches and so on, but if you're not, take some time to consider the possibilities.  Your options are as many and varied as you can imagine.  Check out the opportunities on the Volunteering WA website  You'll be amazed at the variety.  If you've been thinking about getting involved but have been putting it off turn your dreams into reality.

For further information about Mercy Volunteers or about becoming a Mercy Volunteer yourself, e-mail