Put up your hand to volunteer at Hawkesbury Living or Richmond Golf Club

by Justine Doherty
Picture Geoff Jones
Hawkesbury Gazette, Fairfax Media

IF YOU don’t have a full-time job and would love to help your community, you are needed in Richmond.

Richmond Club’s nursing home, Hawkesbury Living, and Richmond Golf Club – with the oldest golf course in Australia – are putting out a clarion call to residents who have a few hours a week to spare.

And the love isn’t all one way – if you volunteer at either facility, you’ll get a lunch or dinner voucher for either club and a free game of golf with kart each week.

Barbara Carter, 76, of McGraths Hill has been helping at Hawkesbury Living since 2004. “Barbara is the best example of a long-term, committed volunteer,” Club CEO Kimberley Talbot said. “We’re ever so lucky to have her.”

A trained chaplain, Mrs Carter talks to residents and families and helps them all with the grieving process, and coaches staff through 'compassion fatigue’.  Helping others is her way of life. She went to Christchurch after the earthquakes, Toowoomba after the floods and was asked by the government to Martin Place after the Lindt Cafe siege.

When asked why people should volunteer, she said “what is it in you that you can be grateful for? What is your purpose? How many of us just sit at home and rust away? I’m so grateful for my life!”.

She said she loves nothing more than sitting with old people and hearing their stories. “They’ll sometimes say ‘I don’t think I’ll get to heaven, I don’t think God will have me’ and I ask ‘what makes you say that?’. 

She usually convinces them of God’s forgiveness, and gives them peace. She added forcefully “80 per cent of mental health problems are because of unforgiveness. It causes bitterness and resentment and goes inward”.

Volunteers are also needed at Richmond Golf Club, part of Richmond Club. Ms Talbot said Richmond Club’s social programs are critical to many older residents, especially men, but the impact of online betting on pokie revenue has meant the club needs more volunteer help to keep its precious social programs going. “We’re battling so hard to keep them,” Ms Talbot said. Part of the reason is the rate of suicide amongst older men. Ms Talbot said the high rate for men over 65 was why they run the ‘veteran’ lawn bowls program at Richmond Club and the ‘veteran’ golfer program at the golf club (veterans of life, not war). 

She said suicide rates for the whole population in 2014 were 12 per 100,000, but for men over 65 it was 16 in 100,000, going up to 37 in 100,000 at over 85.

“We started Western Sydney Veteran Golfers Association  to give them (older men) a reason to get out of bed, and come together with other men to play golf and bowls together.”

The groups are so critical to the men’s social lives that they were “one of the reasons we decided to keep the golf club”, Ms Talbot said. The golfers club attracts 60 to 90 men every week who play at a subsidised rate. “[Pro golfer] Rodger Davis said it’s one of the best golf courses in Australia!” Ms Talbot said.

But a lot of help is needed on the course to help staff keep it going – pruning trees, raking bunkers, setting up the course, weeding and running fundraising raffles. 

If you are able to help at either site, ring the club on 4578 1144.

Hawkesbury Gazette article

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