Teresa Martelli joined COTA (WA) as a volunteer in April 2017 as a way to give something back to her community.
“Now that my children have left home, I was looking for something to do to keep my mind stimulated and to mix with people,” she said.
“My husband suggested volunteering, so that is how I got involved with COTA.”
Teresa is involved in the Age Care Navigator project. The project is designed to help people understand more about Government-supported aged care programs and how to access the services.
She volunteers two days a week, manning the phones and taking face-to-face inquiries and the Aged Care Navigator hub at Vic Park Connect.
“I come from optical background doing reception/sales, with strong customer service,” she said.
“I was able to help people, young and old, choose the correct lens type for their glasses.
“I feel it helps the project, as I am able to listen to what people need and I can provide the information they require.”
Teresa said people should not be frightened to ask for help.
“I think one of the biggest issues for older people is not looking after themselves,” she said, “they are scared to ask for help when they need it.”
Volunteering was a way to help others and find a sense of purpose for yourself, Teresa said.
“Knowing you are able help people in the office gives me great satisfaction,” she said. “I was able to help others in the office in whatever needs doing and it is nice to know they appreciate your help and let you know.
“If you’re lonely, get into volunteering. It gives you confidence, keeps the mind busy and helps you mix with people of all ages.”
Gardening, lawn bowls and AFL football also keep Teresa busy. Her goal is to be happy, fit and travel more in the next few years.
COTA (WA) chief executive Christine Allen said volunteers remained an important foundation of the organisation.
“We have restructured to allow our volunteers to become a part of our projects and programs, rather than be restricted to simple administrative roles,” Ms Allen said.
“We have 10 volunteers working in the Aged Care Navigator project, helping older West Australians to access aged care services through the community hub in Vic Park and an information phone service.
“And there will be expanded opportunities for volunteers through future projects and support for policy development with our policy team.
“We are going into a growth phase. To do that, it is imperative that COTA (WA) becomes more visible and vocal about the issues that matter.
“We want to use the experience of our staff and volunteers to strengthen COTA (WA) so we can help shape policies and legislation that benefits older West Australians.”