Recognising our Volunteers, as part of National Volunteers Week

News from St John - 20 May 2024

Meet Rico,

One of our incredible clients relies on St John Ambulance QLD community visits.

At 88 years of age Rico, being vision poor, enjoys social visits for friendship and interaction.

As a proud man Rico says he is past the stage of worrying about the little things in life. He says he does suffer from mental stress thinking about the past.

He recalls being a young boy growing up in Poland during World War II, and remembering when a bomb fell on one of the nearby buildings, he says he was covered in debris and dust. “With no water available to clean away the thick layer of dust from his eyes, my mother instinctively licked the dust off for me to see again”

Rico says a more harrowing memory for him is when he and his mother stood waiting to have a ‘shower’ in a concentration camp. He, his Mum and a few other Polish people were mistaken to be Jews, and when he talks or remembers stories from then, he says it messes up his mind.

He doesn’t usually talk about it but felt safe enough with Rose-Lyn, his SJAQ volunteer he is able to share a little bit of what he experienced.

Meet Rose-Lyn,

Rose-Lyn, is one of our many community volunteers, she goes above and beyond to make life just a little bit more special for clients like Rico.

A Volunteer with St John Ambulance Queensland for two years, a former midwife and pastor’s wife Rose-Lyn has brought some incredible skills to the role, establishing life-long friendships along the way, including a special bond with 88 year-old Rico.

It comes naturally to Rose-Lyn to relate, listen and support those who need it. She sees value in everyone and reminds herself of the importance of connection.

Rose-Lyn and Rico share one similarity where they lived in the same town, Tathra in regional New South Wales, however not at the same time. They also both believe in God and sometimes they will share a prayer together. This similarity helps them connect.

She says she has always felt the need to support the community. With her husband who was a pastor and a prison chaplain, was part of the prison ministry where she supported inmates in their difficult journey. After she lost her husband, she found solace and purpose that volunteering fulfils her need to help the community more.

Volunteering is her way of showing gratitude and thanks to God for the wonderful life that she has lived.

Why Volunteer with SJAQ

National Volunteer Week (20 – 26 May) is a prime time to reflect on the contribution of our Queensland St John volunteers who contribute hundreds of thousands of hours to Australian communities every year.

St John Ambulance Australia CEO, Brendan Maher wants to remind governments, partners, and communities of the importance of these volunteers, “We have one of the largest continuous volunteer workforces in the country. They not only directly support to the public every single day, but also relieve the burden on other services. We know just how vital our volunteers are, but their contribution also has a quantifiable social impact.”

A survey commissioned by St John and released this week (You Gov, April 2024)1 asked Australians how they feel about those who volunteer. It found that 92 per cent of Australians believe volunteering is important to communities. It also found that 85 per cent of people view those who volunteer more favourably than those who don’t. This suggests not just altruistic and community benefits to volunteering, but also a rise in ‘likeability’ in the social stakes for those who volunteer. Perhaps most importantly, a whopping 93 per cent of Australians believe that volunteers increase the quality of life in communities.

“This survey confirms what we at St John already know, and that is that there are many benefits and opportunities created through volunteering. We hope that by highlighting these we can attract new people who want to expand their skills, while giving back to their communities and feeling good about it.”

St John Ambulance QLD has over 300 active volunteers who contribute more than 25,000 hours to their local communities each year and are most recognisable for providing medical and first aid services at events and community home visits across the state.