Molly the dog sitting down outside

Paw companion volunteer brings joy to residents

When Anna-Lee brings her dog Molly to visit Costa House Aged Care residents in Lara there are smiles and excitement in the room.

Anna Lee volunteers as a Paw Companion Visitor, bringing together her love for her “lovable, silly dog” Molly and her drive to help others. The Lara resident is one of more than 300 volunteers who use their talent and time to help genU clients live better lives. 

Anna Lee and Molly the dog

Molly came into Anna-Lee’s life seven years ago as one of two rescue dogs adopted by the 43 year old volunteer.

“It has been amazing and I feel lucky to have them,” she says.

To share the joy that her beloved pets give her, Anna-Lee fits in volunteer visits with Molly around her full-time work as a vocational trainer at a Corrections Centre.

“She absolutely adores pats and is perfect for the job,” says Anna-Lee, who finds Molly’s placid and gentle temperament perfect for visits at Costa House.

“She loves meeting new people and is really curious. It uses up her energy and she has a great day.”

Bringing smiles and sparking memory

When Anna-Lee and Molly enter the room at Costa House she sees an immediate lift in mood for residents.

“I see a lot more movement, they’re moving more, leaning in for a pat so lots more smiles, and are really, really happy,” she says.

“I’m finding I can have that connection with residents, recognise places they are talking about, and build rapport.”

It is particularly rewarding for her to witness residents with dementia remember and respond to Molly. “I was told that that after we leave, for the rest of the day, they are in a better mood.”

In helping others, Anna-Lee finds ‘amazing’ rewards

Before joining genU as a volunteer in 2019, Anna-Lee volunteered at Lifeline in crisis support, and with young people at Whitelion for four years.

“I learnt a lot and saw a lot. It’s really tough out there,” she says.

For Anna-Lee, the long-standing commitment to volunteering provides an opportunity to be grateful for what she has and give back to others.

“It is something for myself, it’s amazing and I get a lot out of it. I’m fortunate to have the time to give so I think that its important.”

“I feel grateful to share someone’s time, and hear their stories. I learn so much from ‘the oldies’, there are so many things to share that you wouldn’t hear anywhere else. I’m really grateful, it makes me appreciate my life more.”

Volunteer with genU

If you have a passion to make a difference, we welcome you to join our incredible volunteer community and be the difference to make a positive impact.

Volunteer support can be over phone, online or delivered in person at one of the following locations across Victoria:

  • Barwon
  • Mornington Peninsula
  • Northern Metro
  • Southwest
  • Western Metro

Learn More about becoming a volunteer with genU.