From compassion to action

With his blue boots and long hair, Baptcare volunteer, Gianni Sesa-Ashton came as quite a surprise to some of our elderly residents at Hedley Sutton community.

The 19 year-old initially raised a few eyebrows when he began volunteering a few months ago, but soon captured the residents’ hearts and is a steady companion to a number of our residents.

“I think I came as a little bit of a culture shock when I first started volunteering – there was a volunteer who was finishing up a teaching degree, the next volunteer was in their 60s and then I came in!”

“When I played music for the residents, I think they thought I was this Steven Tyler from a big band,” Gianni recalls as he laughs off the Aerosmith comparison and describes the people he’s come to care for every week.

“(Volunteering at an aged care community) is not what I expected it to be – I expected it to be more shocking – but it’s such a nice, loving and welcoming place. It’s hard not to come back to a place where people make time for you and ask you how your weekend was.”

Gianni decided to volunteer at Baptcare after he deferred from an IT Arts course, to pursue medicine. He was keen to gain first hand experience of working with people, but didn’t quite expect to play basketball on wheels on his first day as a volunteer. However, his experience as a volunteer at Hedley Sutton has taught him “a greater respect for everyone’s dignity”, a value he will carry with him into his medical career.

“My friends thought I’d be crunching numbers or be absolutely haggard, but it’s been good to share the funny moments with them – there are some hilarious characters here,” he said.

“Volunteering here has opened up so many different conversations and I get to meet people who’ve lived vastly different lives to what I’ve lived.”

An average day as a volunteer at Baptcare’s Hedley Sutton Community often involves assisting Lifestyle staff with activities and engaging with residents. For Gianni, volunteering at Hedley Sutton has given him opportunities to play music for the residents, participate in activities such as ten pin bowling, basketball on wheels, strike up new friendships and engage in fun banter with residents.

“Volunteering is not as scary as you think it is. There’s tremendous amount of support from staff and the residents so I’d definitely recommend it. For the most part, everyone is very positive and enjoys being here and it’s wonderful to see that sense of companionship between the residents and see them do the things they miss.”

If you would like to volunteer at Baptcare, email Emma Joy: