by Rebecca Vary
However, it didn’t take long to realise that the ‘Lyme world’ needed me now. And so, barely a month into my treatment, I volunteered with the Lyme Disease Association of Australia. It may surprise you to know that the volunteer team at LDAA is predominately made up of sick patients or sick carers. On a good day these volunteers give what they can of their time, their knowledge, and on a bad day they cope with their illness as best they can with the full knowledge that there is still much to do. It’s largely a thankless job, but none of the volunteers are here to be thanked (although it’s nice when it happens), they get their satisfaction out of knowing they are making a difference, and of knowing that their offering, whether big or small, will help to lighten the load on everyone else.
Knowing you've helped someone is the most rewarding part
As anybody who has volunteered for charity can tell you, a constant need for help for which there are never enough hands. The LDAA is no different. For me, the hard thing about this volunteer position is seeing so many people suffer unnecessarily because the people who are paid to help them (our medical profession and government) do not. Knowing that you have helped somebody who had nowhere else to turn is the most rewarding part of this work. Volunteer work however, doesn’t have to be about facing other people’s tragedies, if that’s not for you. For example, some of our volunteers work on tasks like maintaining our website, admin work, writing or fundraising, and many more tasks that either require their particular skills or that simply need doing.
Through my volunteer work, I was asked to speak at events like the Senate Inquiry, meet with high flyers, liaised with journalists, attended events and meetings, and was asked to be a board member. I’ve been privy to documents and submissions that may make a huge difference to Lyme disease patients in Australia. I have had the opportunity to give my input and opinion and I have met some amazing and interesting people. I’ve been trusted with patients’ private struggles, and been honoured to stand up for them during their most difficult times. All of these amazing opportunities came around because I stood up and said “maybe I can help” and volunteered my time to the LDAA.
What can you contribute?
The LDAA needs volunteers! All the LDAA volunteers work from home in a virtual environment. So if you want to help there is no pressure at all to get out of your PJs! We can tailor roles to your skills and to your availability, and roles can be ongoing or short term. We need people who can help us with:
- Web re-design
- Events management
- Legal (human rights)
- General secretarial/admin
- Social workers/patient support
If you would like to apply, please go to our “Contact us” page: https://www.lymedisease.org.au/contact-us/ and select “I’d like to volunteer”.
So much of the pleasure I get from my volunteer work with LDAA comes down to the support and friendships I have made amongst my fellow volunteers, all united in a passion for the cause. To quote our CEO, Sharon Whiteman, “I'm happier when I'm contributing...at least if I can't do what I could do before, I can do my best with who I am now in a culture/situation where my disability wouldn't be shamed or denied”.