Originally from El Salvador, Rene Flamenco started volunteering with Umbrella in February 2020. He had previously worked for an aged care organisation and after doing some research on the internet, found Umbrella and saw they were looking for volunteers.
“My first contact was with Karla, the volunteer coordinator, who also speaks Spanish; it was so good to be able to speak with her in Spanish,” Peter recalled.
Speaking several languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English), Rene started volunteering with Umbrella’s Spanish Home@Home group and playing music on his guitar.
He also volunteers with the Happy Friday group—older people living with dementia—and finds they really respond to the music. “They love it. They really respond and are very happy…. they start to sing and dance to the Italian songs.”
While living in Spain, Rene played guitar in a group and finds it is good to use his skills as a musician in his volunteering role. He also enjoys chatting with clients and playing card games from their country of origin.
A special memory for Rene is going with the Spanish Home@Home group to Araluen for a BBQ. After lunch, he played guitar and everyone became involved in singing ‘Que Sera Sera’ and some were dancing.
“It gives me a lot of satisfaction to see that I can do something for the people to make them happy. Clients request songs, for example Italian songs, and I research them on the internet and learn them so I can play them to clients.”
Umbrella's social support programs had to stop for a while earlier this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. During this time, Rene practised more on his guitar and learnt new music and songs to play for clients. He was very happy to return to Umbrella when the groups started again.
Rene thinks that International Volunteer Day is important.
“It recognises us as volunteers and makes us feel good to know we are supporting seniors, and this encourages me to keep volunteering.
“I am very happy volunteering with Umbrella and feel the organisation supports me and appreciates what we do for clients.”
Rene recently started working as a support worker for Umbrella a couple of times a week, but he also intends to continue volunteering.
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