When Ruth and Roger Ward were thinking of retiring they were living in Melbourne, and wanted a more relaxed lifestyle away from a capital city.
More importantly, they wanted to live somewhere near water, whether that be lake or river. After a lot of searching they found the Central Coast in New South Wales and then honed their criteria and found a beautiful property on the Wyong River that met all their needs.
Once they settled in to their new home they both turned to volunteering to connect with their community. For Roger, the main reason he looked at opportunities to volunteer was to meet people in the community.
“I felt that it would be a very good introduction, plus actually making a contribution to a worthwhile cause. I carried out volunteering for the first couple years I was here and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Initially I started volunteering at the Pioneer Dairy with the resurrection of the cottage and then I did a period with the Salvation Army supervising other volunteers. I am currently volunteering with the Gosford Art Cooperative, which is fine art, and that’s my interest and passion”.
For Ruth it was a bridge to help the transition between full-time work and retirement,
“For me having worked in corporate life and being really busy, the thought of retiring was a little scary. So my thoughts went to volunteering. I thought - what do I know best? That’s why I got involved with doing work on the GOALL Magazine, Growing Older and Loving Life, which is quite appropriate for me! The other side of volunteering for me, I loved going to the theatre in Melbourne, so when Wyong Drama Group needed front of house people I volunteered to do ushering or making coffees, and I love meeting all the new people. So volunteering and those two things really ticked the boxes for me in getting to know people in our community and making new friends when we came to an area where we knew no one”.
When asked what volunteering has meant for them, Roger pointed out the benefit of volunteering in helping him come to terms with retirement:
“I think anyone new to a community who has previously been particularly busy in their business life will get a lot from volunteering. That transition from being terribly busy 24/7, then to come to a stop is a shock. Like Ruth, I had a very difficult transition, it probably took me about two years to accept the fact that I didn’t go to work anymore. There is a huge adjustment in that, and by getting involved in volunteering it’s a nicer transition because you are actively involved and you are responsible for doing something. I think anyone who is in that situation should know that volunteering is a really nice transition”.
For Ruth, volunteering has given her “a purpose where originally, the R word, retirement was a bit daunting. Volunteering has meant that now I’m focused on other things and other people and the rewards that we’ve got out since we’ve been here, we really feel part of the community. I think volunteering has got a lot to do with that. By putting ourselves out there and talking to people we reap the rewards but we also hope that we’ve helped other people who have needed it”.
Ruth and Roger have both enjoyed putting their personal and professional skills to good use in helping their new community. It has given them a sense of purpose and belonging, and helped them to settle in to the next phase of their lives on the lovely Wyong River.
Read what locals have to say about the Central Coast.