“If we can’t help one another, it’s a poor show and there’s something wrong with us.”
THIS is the mantra Colac’s Ruth Spokes lives by after 25 years of volunteering with vision-impaired and disadvantaged elderly people.
Ms Spokes, 64, began her volunteering journey after food company Bonlac Foods, now part of Fonterra, made her position redundant in 1991.
“I was made redundant after 22-and-a-half years and I thought, I’m not going to sit home and do nothing, I’m going to get out in the community.’” she said.
Ms Spokes has spent 25 years volunteering with Vision Australia’s telephone support service.
She speaks to people with low vision across Australia from her home each week, providing them with social interaction.
“One person on the link said to me, I live for this, I so look forward to Tuesday afternoons,” she said.
“I’ve never met them but you can hear the tone in their voices, they’re so happy.”
Ms Spokes also began volunteering with South West Do Care and Colac’s Meals on Wheels service in 1991 after discovering the personal rewards of volunteering.
She has also volunteered at Colac’s Visitor Information Centre for the past 12 years helping international and interstate visitors to Colac.
Ms Spokes is still part of South West Do Care’s visitor service and helps put together the organisation’s monthly newsletter.
“I have three hours at Mercy Place and play Scrabble with a 92-year old lady, and I love it,” she said.
“There’s something in me that just wants to go on helping others and enjoy their lives in the later part of their years.”
Vision Australia is recognising Ms Spokes for her 25 years of voluntary service at a function in Geelong on Wednesday as part of National Volunteers Week.
She says “it’s nice to be thanked”, but insists her volunteering efforts are purely “for the love and enjoyment”.
“It’s not what I get out of it, it’s what I can give to other people,” she said.
“I just love helping other people and people that are less fortunate than me.”
Ms Spokes encouraged other community members to give their time to a service or organisation they were passionate about and experience the joys of volunteering.
“Volunteering makes my life worthwhile, it’s so rewarding,” she said.
“Just go out and volunteer and do something instead of sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself; get out and do it.”