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Age Concern Kāpiti Visiting Service

The Age Concern Kāpiti Visiting Service is a befriending service that matches older people who are lonely or socially isolated with volunteers who are keen to spend time getting to know them.

Volunteers are police-checked, trained, and spend about an hour each week sharing conversations and activities with their older friend. Some visits take place in the client’s home, and some involve going out together. Matches are made carefully, on the basis of personality, shared interests, cultural needs, and location, and are regularly reviewed.

The Visiting Service has been successfully established for many years and has helped to increase social connections for older people living in Kāpiti.

Our volunteer visitors range in age, are male or female and come from different backgrounds. A common thread is the wish to make a difference in the life of an older person.

If you can give an hour or so of your time each week, are friendly, enjoy a chat and respect confidentiality, please contact us for more information about becoming a volunteer visitor.

If you’re feeling lonely and would like a visitor, then contact us and our Visiting Service Coordinator will be in touch.

 

  Workshops for Volunteer Visitors 

 

Alison, the Kāpiti  Visiting Service Co-ordinator, organises get togethers for volunteer visitors.

These events provide an opportunity for experienced and new visitors to chat and get to know one another. It is also an opportunity for them to provide feedback about their visiting experiences and to hear speakers on topics of interest.

 

Volunteer  Stories

Erice Carley – Visitor for Age Concern Kapiti

At a remarkable 103 years of age, Elsa Koasaar, a resident of an independent unit in a Paraparaumu rest home, is a testament to the power of resilience and the enduring bonds of friendship.

Elsa’s story began in Estonia, where she was born into a world that would soon be plunged into chaos. Trained as a nurse, she sought sanctuary in Germany during her early 20s, fleeing the second Russian invasion of her homeland in 1944. Amid the aftermath of World War II, she endured the loss of her husband, becoming a young widow with a son to care for. New Zealand welcomed Elsa and her son as refugees.

The challenges she faced upon arrival were formidable; with a perilous illness and another new language to learn, she showed unwavering determination. She soon embarked on a career as a nurse in Wellington, while balancing the responsibilities of raising her son and later a new marriage.

Approximately 75,000 Estonian refugees, like Elsa, experienced the pain of being separated from their families and countrymen for over four decades by the events of World War II and later by the Iron Curtain. Despite losing contact with Estonian family and friends for many years, Elsa has not lost her spirit or enthusiasm. She has been very happy living in New Zealand, and it was a good move for her in the long run.

Elsa’s story is not just about personal triumph; it’s also about the bonds that shape our lives. The heart of this story is Elsa’s friendship with Erice Carley, a volunteer visitor from Age Concern Kāpiti  “It was a blessing when Erice came to visit me,” Elsa said.

When Elsa’s husband passed away, she came to live with her son in Raumati. Family went to work during the day and, owing to encroaching loss of sight, Elsa found herself feeling very lonely with no local contacts. Her granddaughter referred her to Age Concern Kāpiti, Erice and Elsa were matched for compatibility, introduced, and quickly became firm friends. For the past 16 years, their friendship has flourished.

Erice’s feelings mirror Elsa’s, as she reflects: “We are really lucky that we got on so well … we like to discuss everything, the world, philosophy, theology, our families, everything.” Because Elsa is now blind, Erice also reads to Elsa from newspapers or newsletters from organisations in which they have a shared interest and brings any news that she reads about Estonia on her weekly visits.

The friendship that has blossomed between Elsa and Erice reminds us of the simple pleasures in life and the vital importance of human connections.

 

Gail Mann – Visitor for Age Concern Kapiti

Mary Walsh lives in Waikanae. At over 90 years old, Mary has been facing the challenges of progressive vision loss for the past two years. The impact of blindness has made her daily activities more difficult, and she has had to relinquish beloved hobbies. But what’s also disheartening is the unintended isolation she feels. People around her, who “don’t know what to say” have become distant, and social gatherings have become a struggle as she misses the visual cues that enable smooth conversations. 

Amidst these challenges, Gail Mann, who is also legally blind, entered Mary’s life. Gail is an Age Concern volunteer visitor. Mary’s daughter contacted Age Concern Kāpiti and Alison the Visiting Service Coordinator thought Gail would be an excellent match for Mary. Despite her own disability, Gail has been enthusiastically volunteering for Age Concern for several years and, she has been visiting Mary in her lovely home and garden each week for the past two years. From the beginning, Mary realised that Gail is the person in her life who truly understands what it means to be blind.

Gail loves visiting Mary and says that she gets as much out of it as she gives. Gail and Mary agree that different people need different things from their visitors; some need to be taken out or helped, and others enjoy forming a friendship. Mary enjoys her life; she says that learning to cope with her blindness and remain active fills up her days. She has also joined a support group for the visually impaired since meeting Gail. Although she has several support people who visit, these people come to her house to “do things” like housework, paying bills, or lawn mowing. Gail is the one person who comes to specifically sit with Mary to enjoy a long conversation.

Mary says that although she doesn’t feel lonely, being visited is essential. She says: “There is more happening than I realise to help me. Even if people don’t realise it, it is very necessary… you may not think you need it but in actual fact you do.”

 

Colin Payne – Volunteer

 If there were prizes for people who put their hand up to volunteer whatever the task, Colin would certainly have received many prizes over the years.  The list of organisations and voluntary positions he has held is impressive ranging from social service organisations, theatres and choirs to sports clubs and educational groups.

Having had a career as a Structural Engineer gave Colin a range of excellent skills which, together with his great sense of humour and ready smile, enables him to relate to people from all walks of life.

Colin remembers the following words his father often said and which he feels has influenced his attitude to life:

“If I can help somebody as I pass along,

If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,

If I can show somebody he is travelling wrong,

Then my living shall not be in vain.”

(Song – lyrics by Alma Bazel Androzzo)

Colin believes in treating people as equals while respecting we are all individuals.  Having come from England many years ago he knows the importance of making links and becoming involved in the community you live in. This attitude is reflected in the way he has carried out his many voluntary roles.

Over the years Age Concern Kāpiti has been fortunate to have Colin work as a volunteer in several roles including as a volunteer visitor, HAT group helper, Steady As You Go (SayGo) instructor as well as helping to organise fund raising events. Whatever the occasion we know we can rely on Colin to help. Thank you Colin.

 

June Te Maro – Visitor for Age Concern Kāpiti

June came into our office over 20 years ago. She had seen our advertisement for volunteer visitors in the local paper. We’re so lucky she did because she has now been a wonderful volunteer visitor since then. In that time, June has become a trusted friend to the older people she has visited.

When June saw our advert, she was prompted to find out more about becoming a volunteer visitor because, as she explains “I was walking through Coastlands Mall and saw an elderly lady looking lonely. I stopped and spoke to her and she told me she often felt lonely and needed a friend. So, I became her friend and we met regularly until she passed away”.

June was originally from Waikato and her interests and pastimes include cooking and feeding people, caring for pre-schoolers, teaching and learning from them. “I grew up being amongst the elderly”, says June, “my kuia/ koroua (Nanny’s and Granddad’s) and I always loved being in their surrounds to listen and learn from them and do for them, giving and receiving the aroha (love)”.

A wonderful lady who is probably at this moment making pikelets to take to an older person she visits!

If you or someone you know could benefit from a meaningful visitor or if you’d like to volunteer and bring joy to an older person’s life, don’t hesitate to get involved. Reach out to Age Concern Kāpiti at (04) 298 8879 or email admin@ageconcernkapiti.co.nz and become a part of this heartwarming initiative.