The start of 2021 saw COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease across Victoria, bringing hope that a post-COVID world was not too far away. This too meant that in-person volunteering was able to gradually resume, providing much-needed relief for many community organisations who rely on events and in-person activities to continue their work.
This was the case for Dementia Australia, the national peak body that supports and empowers the estimated half a million Australians living with dementia and almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. Despite being the second leading cause of death in Australia, dementia remains one of the most challenging and misunderstood conditions, still with no known cure.
The organisation’s annual Memory Walk & Jog events are a key fundraising and education tool for enabling meaningful support services and information to those with a dementia diagnosis, as well as their families and carers.
The events are held in various locations across the country and volunteers are a vital part of the day, by enthusiastically welcoming participants, offering practical support and – this year – helping to keep everyone COVID safe.
But sourcing volunteers for the 2021 schedule was proving to be more challenging than previous years. Although the easing of restrictions enabled in-person events to resume, many community organisations were seeing a significant drop in their usual volunteer numbers.
Thankfully, weVolunteer was able to connect with Dementia Australia to offer support in re-engaging volunteers during this difficult time. Jacinta Archer, Volunteer Coordinator at Dementia Australia, says the weVolunteer platform provided a great way to engage with committed and credentialed volunteers while in-person volunteering was re-emerging in Victoria.
“It was wonderful that the community had reached a point where such events were again possible with appropriate COVID-safe measures, and volunteers are key to the success of these endeavours.”
One such volunteer was Loren, who joined in August 2020 when the project first began. After hearing of the Memory Walk & Jog events through weVolunteer role alerts, she generously offered her time and support to volunteer at all three of the Victorian events, held in Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat. Despite having to travel a significant distance on each occasion, Loren always arrived by 5:45am with a smile and an abundance of enthusiasm.
“Loren provided great leadership, twice assisting as a course supervisor, coordinating a team of track marshals, and overseeing safety and support in her course area. We are so grateful for the time she shared with us and her commitment to our organisation.”
Volunteers like Loren are integral for so many organisations, particularly for supporting communities bounce back from the challenges of the past year. Throughout the pandemic, communities across Australia have missed the opportunity that these and other similar events provide.
While these 3 events alone helped raise over $300,000 for Dementia Australia, it was also a chance to reconnect the local community – something that wouldn’t be possible without the support of dedicated volunteers.
In recognition of her outstanding contribution to community recovery through Dementia Australia, Loren has been awarded the weVolunteer Community Champion winner for 2021. Congratulations Loren!
Click the link below to find out more about Dementia Australia and upcoming Memory Walk & Jog events near you.