Overlooking the skyline of the CBD from Fraser’s Restaurant, St Bart’s staff cheered on as volunteer Fred Wilkin stood up to accept the 2019 ACSA WA Volunteer of the Year Award. The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions made by organisations, teams and individuals in the aged care industry throughout the year.
A member of Youth with a Mission, Fred has been volunteering at St Bart’s James Watson Aged Care Centre for seven years. Consistent, loyal and dependable, his ability to connect with our residents has provided them with invaluable emotional support, particularly for those who are estranged from their families or have no other means of social support.
Before he heads off to Melbourne in October as a nominee for ACSA’s 2019 National Aged Care Awards, we spoke to Fred for more on his volunteering journey with St Bart’s.
What first inspired you to volunteer with St Bart’s?
A team from Youth With A Mission (YWAM), now headed up by Sue Bowles, has been coming on Thursday afternoons to spend time with the residents of James Watson Aged Care Centre for over seven years. I had heard of their service and I asked if I could join. Sue and I were neighbours and we’re fellow YWAMers.
What activities have you helped James Watson residents with?
Many! I have served tea, coffee and afternoon tea; played pool and board games; taken the gents for walks inside and outside the facility; advocated for some of the resident’s causes; helped them with their electronic devices (including selling an item on eBay!); read, transcribed and been dictated to; gone out to meals; mourned with them at memorial services; celebrated with them through birthdays and other dates on the calendar; served at the monthly communion service; prayed with individuals and sung carols at Christmas.
What does winning this award mean to you?
It is nice to be seen and recognised. I think we all appreciate it in one way or another when we are congratulated for doing what we know is the right thing. This is a commendation for me, YWAM, and James Watson Aged Care Centre staff and residents.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned through your volunteering experience with us?
Many of these men have lived interesting and fulfilling lives. Some have never been able to tell their stories. I find often it’s a time to just listen and thank them for their service to our community.
What keeps you on your volunteering journey?
I have continued to volunteer because I see the value in many, if not all, of the residents. I love being that consistent person from outside the organisation to come alongside particular residents and champion their cause.