Monday 13 May 2013

HUSBAND and wife volunteering team Maureen and Colin Goldsmith say conducting weekly communion services for older people brings purpose to their lives.
This week as part of National Volunteer Week celebrations the Upper Beaconsfield couple will receive 10-year service awards from not-for-profit aged and disability services organisation Villa Maria at its annual Volunteer Luncheon.
The Friday 17 May event, will be held at the Malvern Valley Public Golf Course to celebrate the amazing commitment and dedication shown each and every day by Villa Maria’s 300-plus volunteers.  This year, more than 20 Volunteer Service Awards will be presented to volunteers who have achieved service milestones ranging from five to 30 years in various roles including aged care and disability services visitors, swimming assistants, computer support, reading companions and drivers.
The Goldsmiths, who are grandparents to 23 and great-grandparents to 10, were asked by the Priest at their church, St Michael’s Parish in Berwick, to take over chapel services at Villa Maria Berwick aged care residence in 2003.  They have become regular and welcome fixtures around the home ever since.
Their Wednesday ‘service with the word and communion’ sessions have become quite popular, with around 20 residents attending the on-site chapel each week, and other residents who are more frail receiving visits from the Goldsmiths in their rooms.
“We think it’s absolutely important for people to have access to services that help keep them connected to their faith,” Colin said.  “What we find particularly rewarding is being with people who are close to passing away.  I remember one lady who was very frail and non-communicative opening her eyes to look at me and give a smile when I held her hand and said a prayer.  It is so nice that we can come along and give someone something they appreciate at the end of their life. We call it ‘food for the journey’.”
Maureen said the couple made their services non-denominational, so they were accessible to people of all faiths.  Their main aim is to have personal contact with the residents and make a positive difference to their lives.
“There are not many things you can do in life where you can help someone else and really make a difference, and this is one of them,” Maureen said.