Fun-loving couple enjoy volunteering

Volunteers Jude (left) and John Bowen with Bupa St Kilda residents Barbara Joy Green and Noeline Hamer, with care home activities staffer, Tracey Graham.

A pair who knit knee rugs and help seniors are completely sold on the concept of volunteering. Viv Posselt reports during National Volunteer Week. 

Cambridge’s John and Jude Bowen became volunteers partly by accident, but now they’re almost part of the furniture at Bupa St Kilda Care Home.

Their regular visits to John’s mum and care home resident, Martha Bowen, started about a year ago. It wasn’t long before they got to know other residents and staff … taking on more volunteering just seemed to be a natural progression.

“We’re both retired, and needed something else in our life,” said John. “Now we’re finding it quite rewarding. The residents here have become part of our lives.”

John and Jude belong to a Bupa St Kilda team of volunteers who cover off a weekly roster of events. Jude regularly reads books and newspapers to residents and has two ‘knitting and nattering’ groups, while they both, John included, knit colourful knee rugs at a steady rate. It’s a popular activity, which means there is always a need for more wool.

John travels on Mondays to the Avantidrome with a group of residents who ride the inner track. He admits to being surprised by the improvements he has seen: “We have one resident who uses a walker and can sometimes find walking a struggle, but when he gets on the bike, he’s off. It’s great to see.”

The couple caused a spot of mirth last month by volunteering as wait staff for the Mother’s Day afternoon tea.

They would like to see others join as volunteers and suggest a care home is a great place to start.  “It allows you to get out of your comfort zone, to try new things and meet new people. You bring a little bit of joy to someone’s day, and it’s a really fulfilling experience,” said John.

Bupa St Kilda Care Home manager Marco Kits said the Bowens have become an integral part of life at the care home, and said: “John and Jude are two of a group of volunteers we have who are always so willing to participate and lend a hand in our care home activities.”

Tracey Graham, who handles activities at Bupa St Kilda, said there was always a need for more volunteers. Anyone interested in joining the crew – or in donating wool for the knee rug knitters – is asked to contact the care home office.

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