25 Years of STAR: Tom Hughes

I can honestly say that I get more out of volunteering than I put in.

Tom Hughes, STAR Companionship Volunteer

Prior to retiring, Tom Hughes used to visit his mother at a nursing home in Wynnum. Tom noticed some residents never had any visitors, so Tom started spending a short time with some of them just chatting and listening to their stories. It was clear that no one was paying any attention to some of these people for a variety of reasons: family in far distant locations, some with no family or friends. Sadly, some with family who seemed not to care. Tom realised it is a big problem facing the elderly.

“I decided then that once I retire I would become a volunteer,” said Tom.“ I looked around at what was the best way that I could contribute to the community. My search led me to STAR who I thought provided the best support services for our seniors. I was not wrong as I have found they are a fantastic group who are truly dedicated to supporting the aged in our area.”

“The general public does not realise how many lonely seniors there are. Some have no family or friends and depend totally on support from STAR and others, that is why I urge any friends that have who have time on their hands, to think about volunteering. 

Tom recalls a particularly memorable incident from his volunteering experience. One day, a 99-year-old client and Tom went shopping, and on the way home, they decided to stop at Cleveland Point for an ice cream. When they arrived, the Lighthouse deck was full, so they decided to sit under a tree near the car. Tom then went off to get the ice creams. When Tom returned, to his horror, the client was gone! A lady approached Tom and informed him that two elderly couples had seen some people leave the deck and decided to take his friend up the stairs and onto the deck, a kind but misguided gesture given his frail condition. Tom joined him, and they shared ice cream and a good laugh about his shock at losing his friend!

“ There are many rewards to be had from volunteering, meeting such wonderful people, hearing so many amazing stories of people's lives, learning about their views, opinions, and ideas about things going on in the world, there is much to be learned from our senior citizens. I can honestly say that I get more out of volunteering that I put in.  The smiles and happiness we receive from lonely older people when we spend time with them talking and listening, and most important of all, not treating them like old inconsequential objects. Dignity and respect is key to all aspects of caring.”

“I always tell my friends; remember one day you may be in a position where a "Volunteer" may be important to YOU”.