Published on 23 May 2024

Making a difference

Hearing a friend excitedly talk about volunteering at her council is what led resident Deb to sign up for the City of Onkaparinga’s Volunteer Program.

That was five years ago, and Deb is all smiles when chatting with Onkaparinga Now as she recounts her time volunteering.

For a few hours each week, Deb volunteers with the Social Connections Program, which provides social outings for residents aged 65 years and over. The program aims help improve participants’ wellbeing, build their social networks and become more involved in the community.

The outings and activities are as diverse as the people Deb gets to meet.

“We visit different coffee shops, go the cinema, and see performances and exhibitions at the Arts Centre in Port Noarlunga – it’s a lot of fun,” Deb said.

“The Social Connections Program is a great initiative; participants not only look forward to that day, but overtime I’ve seen them become more confident, independent, and connected with their community. “

“I just love being there for people. It gives me great joy knowing I’m helping people whether it be listening to them, making them laugh or encouraging social independence. 

“The participants are very grateful for the volunteers’ time, saying we make their day and they don’t know what they’d do without us and the program.

“I even had one lady tell me she’d like to adopt me,” Deb recalled with a laugh.

Deb has volunteered for most of her life and, as she says, it’s in her blood.

“After seeing my mum get so much from volunteering, I decided to do it too – I’ve done it for most of my life,” Deb said.

“I started volunteering in the sports programs and canteen at my daughters’ school, and continued for 10 years after they finished high school.”

“It doesn’t matter what age you are, volunteering has so many benefits and it’s incredibly fulfilling knowing you’re making a difference to someone’s day.

“The people I meet and work with are just amazing.”

Deb is one of 77 volunteers who celebrated five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of volunteer service with the City of Onkaparinga at a special event yesterday.

The event coincides with National Volunteer Week which highlights the important role of volunteers in the community and invites people not currently volunteering to give it a go.

The City of Onkaparinga has more than 30 programs and projects volunteers can get involved in.

To find out more visit the council’s website.

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A group of smiling volunteers, a woman in front holding a volunteering certificate from the City of Onkaparinga, stand in front of some paintings.