Grandparents Bill and Maree volunteer for Easy Care Gardening one day a week.
Bill started volunteering with Easy Care Gardening in December 2004. A year later Maree decided to volunteer as well. Easy Care Gardening is a gardening service for the frail aged and people with a disability on a pension. Teams of gardening volunteers weed, prune, mulch and make gardens safe and tidy so that people can remain in their own homes and avoid premature or unnecessary institutionalisation.
Bill and Maree work in the same team one day a week, but while Bill works quietly on his own ("he's not much of a talker"), Maree enjoys the company of the other volunteers.
Maree explains that she joined Easy Care Gardening for (as she terms it) her "...own selfish reasons" - that is, because she wanted to meet new people. She didn't join because of a great desire to help the elderly - she hadn't had much experience with older people at the time - but she soon realised what a difference her work was making, and that so many of the elderly people simply enjoyed the company. She could see what a difference the gardening work was making to their lives.
Maree further explains that she is "not a cup of coffee type person". She likes digging in the dirt, being outside and getting things done. The volunteer work is "not moving mountains" but is her "own little way of making a contribution".
"I know lots of people who complain about how bored they are. Why don't they go out and volunteer and get involved?" asks Maree.
With five grown up children and eight grandchildren (three new this year), Bill and Maree have very full lives. They get to their own garden occasionally but as Maree explains, they don't set aside a specific time for their own garden in the way that their gardening day with Easy Care Gardening has been set aside and so it is often neglected.
As well as keeping fit, getting out and about, and feeling like she is making a contribution to her community, Maree enjoys the gardening because it gets her "...out of my own circle". She enjoys meeting people and, as she explains so well; "It doesn't matter where you come from, we're all equal as gardeners."