Bill Oyen started volunteering at The Salvation Army Aged Care in 2008. He was working a couple of part-time jobs at the time and he had some spare time, so he decided to start volunteering at a nursing home in Chester Hill in Sydney’s Western Suburbs before volunteering at The Salvation Army’s Weeroona Aged Care Centre. “Being in a full-time job, you work with people all the time and once that’s finished, you want to have connection with people,” he says. “It’s a social thing and you’re making their lives a bit better.” Initially, Bill spent time visiting some of the residents at Weeroona but a part-time maintenance role came up, so he started working on some of those projects too. He has been working and volunteering at Weeroona for eleven years now and he thoroughly enjoys it.
Bill also drives the bus for Weeroona residents so that they can go on social outings or to buy groceries. “I really enjoy it because all the people on the bus – I know them all. It’s like a big family group,” he says. “I’m really missing it at the moment.” There are currently State and Federal requirements stipulating how many people can visit an aged care centre due to the coronavirus pandemic, so Bill hasn’t been able to do his usual volunteering work. Major Tony DeTommaso, Direction of Mission and the Chaplain, has been working at Weeroona since 2016 and he has been managing the incoming volunteers since then. He says that The Salvation Army Aged Care has stopped volunteers coming in to Weeroona because of the pandemic.
Before the pandemic started, Bill would spend about 8 hours a week at Weeroona. He had to get his bus licence in order to be able to drive the bus which is did do. He says that The Salvation Army is a good place to volunteer for. “Volunteering goes both ways,” he says. “You make their lives a bit happier and it’s for your own benefit as well because it’s enjoyable. You don’t do it for the money. You do it because you want to.” Bill says that he will continue to volunteer once the pandemic is over. “For as long as I can,” he says. “As long as I have my driver’s licence and I’ll still visit as well.” Once the pandemic is over, we encourage all interested volunteers to get in touch with their nearest Centre to find out how they can volunteer at The Salvation Army Aged Care.