May 10, 2016

I have gained more than I have given – Ian Venamore

National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our volunteers. Lung Foundation Australia takes this opportunity to thank the hundreds of volunteers who generously donate their time, skills and support to making lung health a priority in Australia.

This week we have put together a few profiles of our hardworking volunteers so that you can get to know them too. Meet Ian:

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am a 69 year old retiree who was first diagnosed with COPD (emphysema) in 2003. I spent my 40 year career in engineering and management. I completed pulmonary rehabilitation in 2011, and have routinely attended maintenance gym exercise twice a week ever since.

My wife and I will celebrate our golden wedding anniversary in September, along with our three adult children, their spouses and six grandchildren.

I benefited greatly from pulmonary rehabilitation and the benefits, information and support from Lung Foundation Australia to all those who suffer lung disease.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?

I was thoroughly impressed by all those involved in my rehabilitation and the warmth and commitment of the Lung Foundation Australia staff who I spoke to in the quest for a better understanding of my disease, its treatment and their genuine support.

Why did you become a volunteer at Lung Foundation Australia?

I felt that while I may be physically limited and now retired, my skill set could be used to help Lung Foundation Australia in ways which benefited both it and the community it serves as a volunteer. I am also able to provide a patient’s perspective in areas of policy and program development. It was the least I could do in repayment. My time is the greatest gift I have to offer.

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?

As is invariably the case, I have gained much more than I have given. I have felt the deep inner warmth and satisfaction that we only get from doing something for others, without payment or material reward; to be part of something bigger than myself and contributing to an organisation that pays such great dividends.

I have spoken to many, many patients during my volunteer work and my personal experience of lung disease helps me to speak to them with understanding and authority.

What are the challenges, if any?

There are days when I do not feel well and the last thing I want to do is either attend gym or go into the Lung Foundation Australia office, but experience tells me that if I can manage it, I will feel better both mentally and physically for the effort.

Would you encourage others to volunteer?

I would encourage all who have the health and capacity to find a community cause that is dear to them and contribute in whatever small way to do it. They too will find that they gain much more than they give.