I’ve been thinking a lot about community service as it’s something that I have missed recently in my life.
After many years in the military (you may not be aware that I served as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy (in the category of Education Specialist) for 10 years followed by a further 11 years in the Navy Reserve). I joined as a Midshipman many years ago and finally retired from service as a Commander. To this day, my time in the Navy has been a highlight of my work career and I’m honoured to have served.
After I left the permanent Navy and transferred to the Reserves (I also transferred from Education and re-trained into Public Relations) then moved over to the Navy PR branch, I also joined Rotary. While I was in the Navy, I was also a member of Rotaract (Rotary for 18-30 year olds) and then continued with Rotary afterwards. I took a lot of pleasure being active volunteering in the local community and getting to know people.
I spent many years in Rotary and had different positions at a club as well as working on District and International projects. (I think they were hopeful that I would stay on and take up some District roles however, the long hours when doing full time work as well took their toll.
After I finished my Club President role at my Rotary Club, I decided to take a bit of a break. Sometimes, when you volunteer in such organisations, they take up a lot of your free time so I thought it was time to just spend some time doing ‘my’ stuff. It’s been over 7 years now and as I think about the next phase of my life post-work, volunteering through community service is something that keeps returning to me.
I keep thinking how my community service was always something that I loved doing because it got me out and about in the local community; you got to hear some wonderful stories; you learned about the businesses in the local area; everything you did made some kind of an impact and a positive story. Community services play an integral role in our local areas and many clubs and groups are struggling to survive nowadays when it’s at a time we need them the most as people isolate in their homes; mental health and wellbeing is reduced and loneliness is a serious issue.
My husband and I like going out to dinner to our local RSL (Returned Services League). There are over 300 clubs in Victoria and they help offer support to Australian veterans and their spouses. These clubs not only offer services by way of dining, there are also social and sporting activities as well as a volunteer network that supports veterans in their homes in the area.
As a member of the RSL, you can go to any club around Australia and I guess it’s some form of recognition of service.
One of the great things that they do is that arrive at the RSL at 6.00pm and every night, hear the last post. All movement stops, you stand where you are and you acknowledge the fallen.
There are also great displays of military medals and other memorabilia at each club. (For a while, I have been thinking to donate my old uniforms to one of the clubs if they’ll take them).
I think it’s high time I join the RSL now as a veteran and then offer my services to volunteer and help out the other veterans in the community and to keep these clubs going.
They have a whole heap of different welfare programs such as:
- Friendship program (you can drive RSL members to the club if they are unable to drive themselves)
- Key safe program
- Smoke detector change
- Minor home maintenance
- Assistance with New Technology
- Helping out with Shopping
- Social and Sporting Group
I’ve often referred many times in this blog about the need to have some kind of local community connection as over time, we are losing ties with our local community groups. This is going to be one way for me to re-establish that connection and feel part of the wider community.
This is going to be one way that I will slowly start to transition into the next phase of my life. I don’t see myself working for a long time – 5 years at the most (I was never driven by money or career and looked at people baffingly if they mentioned these as their entire raison d’etre) so the next focus of my life involves two main pillars: Community and Creativity.
After all, I just consider it a small part to play in my civic duty to keep these clubs going.