• With a song and a prayer, Deb volunteers with Resthaven

    With a song and a prayer, Deb volunteers with Resthaven

    For Deb Wotherspoon, one of the most rewarding things is to hear the voices of people singing along with her piano playing.

    A volunteer at Resthaven Bellevue Heights, Deb, and her bordoodle (border collie/poodle) Fergus, support the ‘Worship for Everyone’ church service. Deb plays the piano during the service and then continues to play afterwards while the residents enjoy afternoon tea.

    ‘I love the way music brings joy to the residents,’ Deb says. ‘And I love that Fergus brings them joy as well. To see the smiles on their faces is just amazing.’

    Deb has been volunteering in aged care homes for around 20 years and has been with Resthaven Bellevue Heights for the past three years.

    ‘Fergus and I always arrive early so we can walk around to visit residents,’ Deb says. ‘Fergus loves the attention, and residents love to see him. Then we sit down at the piano, and I put his lead around the leg of my piano stool, and he lies there and goes to sleep.

    My old dog, Keisha, would hear the afternoon tea trolley coming and would always sit up, hoping for a feed. I had to tell everyone not to feed her the cakes!’

    Deb began playing piano when she was seven years old.

    ‘At high school, a couple of my teachers started to put together some musicals, which I loved being a part of,’ Deb says.

    Deb later joined local music groups with lead roles in the Hills Musical Company, Port Lincoln Players, G&S and SA Light Opera Societies as well as some lead roles with State Opera South Australia. She was also a high school music teacher at Blackwood High School, Concordia College, Scotch College, and others.

    Volunteered for volunteering

    When Deb’s mother was asked if she could organise a music program for the local Probus group she said “No – but I know someone who can!”.

    ‘My mum put me forward and I began helping Probus,’ Deb says. ‘The second thing that got me into volunteering was my conductor moving into Resthaven Marion. I wanted to continue to play and sing for him, so I started visiting him there.’

    Continuing her role as a musical entertainer, Deb then made enquiries at other aged care homes, where she held sing-a-longs and solo performances.

    ‘There have been some amazing moments,’ Deb says. ‘One resident would whistle along to the tunes, pitch-perfect, and another resident (who didn’t seem to be paying attention) suddenly sat straight up in his chair and sang out the chorus of the song in a very clear baritone. Some residents will just make the slightest movement, and in others, you might just notice a tear sliding down their cheek. It’s very rewarding.’

    Thank you, Deb for sharing your musical talents and fur friend, Fergus, with Resthaven – you make a wonderful difference.

    Resthaven welcomes more people to enrich the lives of older people and share joy. This may simply be through companionship and shared interests – we’re sure you will find the experience equally rewarding. Join us in sharing this story and recommending volunteering.

    For more information, call Volunteer Services on 08 8373 9036, or email volunteer@resthaven.asn.au. Alternatively, you can visit the volunteering page.

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