Peter Jurleka has volunteered with Umbrella’s Community Visitors Scheme for five years, visiting seniors living in residential aged care and at home.
“Volunteering … I thoroughly enjoy it! I visit people from different cultural backgrounds—Italians, Croatians, Serbians and Macedonians.”
Back in 2015, Peter heard that Umbrella was looking for volunteers through a Croatian radio program, the Voice of Dalmatia.
“I was involved in another Croatian program at the time (through Radio 6EBA) and I heard that Umbrella needed volunteers.”
Peter knew a bit about Umbrella as someone he knew had been a client. He had recently retired after working for 40 years as a butcher and was keen to keep contributing. Being in business for so many years, Peter knew a lot of people in the community and had always enjoyed talking to people and helping them.
Peter usually volunteers five hours a week and says the people he visits don’t have many other visitors. Nearly all are men (he visits one couple) and they like to talk about their life stories.
“We mainly talk, and have a cup of coffee. The time just goes. We talk about all sorts of things. One man has been a bricklayer and I talk about being a butcher.”
He also knows how important it is to have someone visit who can speak the same language, as he remembers knowing only a few words of English when he arrived in Australia in 1959 at the age of 13.
Although he realised it was necessary, the COVID-19 lockdown wasn’t an easy time. He kept in touch with people at the residential care facility where he volunteers, sending cards and making phone calls but says he really likes to talk in person.
Peter thinks acknowledging what volunteers do is important, including through International Volunteer Day. “I am pleased with what I get out of volunteering, doing something good. I used to say to my apprentices, you need to put your heart into what you do, otherwise, you won’t succeed.
“It means a lot and everything I do, I do with my heart.”
Peter also encourages more people to volunteer: “We need more volunteers at Umbrella!”
The Office of Multicultural Interests recognises the hard work and commitment of CaLD community members. Many organisations are run by volunteers could not carry out their important work without them.
International Volunteer Day (IVD) is held each year on 5 December. For more information visit www.volunteeringaustralia.org