Jasper the volunteering Border Collie brings smiles


Volunteering is often attributed to youth trying to bolster their CV or as a bridge between high school and university, however it’s been found that Australians over 50 engage in volunteering for reasons that don’t serve themselves, and an overwhelming number are doing so.

Over 50s selflessly offer up professional and personal wisdom, shows a new study commissioned by over 50s insurer Apia, it was found that more than half (56%) of Australia’s over 50s are currently engaged with community or volunteer work.

New volunteer, Renee Blackwell, 58, has been visiting a nursing home for the past six months bringing smiles and her furry friend to visit the residents.

“My beautiful Border Collie Jasper and I volunteer at the local Rest Home, as visitation/therapy dog,” says Renee,

“I had driven by this nursing home for many years and always thought one day I’ll go ask them about volunteering with Jasper and finally that day arrived.”

Training was required, including a blue card and some emergency training for Renee and a letter from the vet giving Jasper the tick of approval as a good candidate for visitations.

“We visit the home on Thursday mornings and always stick to the same day and time,” Renee explains.

“The experience is wonderful for everyone involved, and I feel my volunteer experience has enriched my life deeply”, she adds.

“Jasper loves the attention and the love from the people at the local Rest Home. I enjoy talking with them, learning about their lives and fascinating history and of course the residents in the nursing home love their weekly visits – we have all developed real and meaningful relationships.”

“One of the reasons visitations with a dog is so good, is the unconditional love a dog can give to the residents and the ongoing relationship. Jasper seems to know when one of the residents is unwell, unhappy or needs extra love and attention.”

Head of Apia Customer Value, Geoff Keogh says, “Australians over 50 have at least half a century of experience to offer, and it’s pretty remarkable that over half of this demographic are putting their skills and knowledge towards a worthwhile cause – this is a true testament of over 50s’ commitment to help others.”

The study further reveals that for 9 in 10 (88%) volunteers over 50, the reason they engage in volunteering is for altruistic reasons, with the most common reason being to contribute to their community (65%).

Making a significant contribution to the community through knowledge sharing was also called out by Australians over 50, with 51% believing it’s one of the most meaningful ways they can give back.


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Alana Lowes
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