Adding colour to their world

When Merv Stanton’s late wife moved into residential aged care over a decade ago, she looked out her bedroom window and said, “The garden is beautifully green, but there’s no colour.”

And so Merv promptly set about bringing in vibrant colourful plants from the garden at their home in Wynyard in North West Tasmania and planting them outside Margaret’s window at Uniting AgeWell Queenborough Rise Community in Sandy Bay.

“Margaret loved looking out at the bright bursts of colour,” says Merv. “It made her very happy.”

Merv moved to an independent living unit in Hobart, and over the next two years until Margaret’s death at the end of 2014, gradually transformed the garden into a triumph of reds, yellows and blues. Colours for all seasons.

“I noticed the other residents loved the splashes of colour too,” says Merv. “They’d come out and admire the flowers. So after Margaret’s death, Queenborough Rise Community asked me to stay on as a volunteer and work in the garden.”

It’s National Volunteer Week and time to give a huge shout out to all the volunteers, like Merv, for their endless work and tireless energy in enriching the lives of others.

The theme for this year is The Change Makers which celebrates the power to drive change and ensure volunteering is inclusive of all members of the Australian community.

Uniting AgeWell General Manager Tasmania, Jane Johnston says, ”this theme rings true for us, where inclusion is a core value underpinning everything we do. With a long history of volunteer support, Uniting AgeWell’s services have grown and flourished; a vital contribution we recognise and appreciate.”

Merv, who is 96-year-old, still works in the garden for a few hours every day excluding the weekends, and was touched when a sign “Merv’s Garden” was recently erected in the grounds.

“The more you give as a volunteer, the more you receive,” says the retired Anglican Minister. “I have gained so much personally through helping others. It’s wonderful.”

Merv has not only been busy in the garden, over the years he’s called Bingo, gone on bus trips with residents, helped set up the Garden Club and looked after the library. He still prepares the quiz every fortnight – he used to do it weekly but cut back so he could spend more time in the garden.

The great-grandfather still drives and says he’s in pretty good shape. “Something I wouldn’t be in if I spent my days in front of TV doing nothing instead of working in the fresh air,” he says.

And his advice to others thinking about volunteering? “Do it! It’s important to see where we can help others. That’s what life is all about.”

There are a wide range of volunteering opportunities available at Uniting AgeWell.

Click the link below or call 13 93 75 to see how you too can enrich the lives of older people – and your own!

Learn more about volunteering with us