A Decade of Dedication: Interview with Greg

In the heart of the Allowah Community, long-devoted volunteer Greg East stands as a valued member of the team. For a remarkable span of ten years, he has generously devoted his time and skills to supporting the Allowah family. To recognise his decade of service, we sat down with Greg to hear him share his journey, reflecting on the experiences that have shaped his time with us.

Starting his journey in 2014…

Greg’s journey with Allowah began in 2014 as he decided he wanted to use his retirement to spend time doing something that helped children. When his daughter told him about Allowah, a children’s hospital that her church supported, Greg looked into volunteering opportunities.

Reflecting on his initial steps into the community, Greg recounts the uncertainty he felt, admitting, “I didn’t find it easy.” Yet, in those early stages of learning to communicate with the children, seeds of connection were sown.

“I remember feeling a bit daunted, feeling like I was just having a one-way conversation with the kids.” Recounting his first shift, Greg shares about how he sat down with one girl and spent the afternoon attempting to connect with her. He admits that after about 15 minutes just talking to her, he didn’t really know what to say. “I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but after an hour one of the nurses came to me and said, ‘She really likes you.’”

Greg asked the nurse how she knew, and was told the child he was with would usually be complaining or whining about things, but instead she was sitting there quietly next to him. That was how the staff could tell the girl’s feelings.

“I learnt that there’s a different dimension to the children than just a straightforward conversation.” Greg says. With eyes open to a new way of communicating, Greg continued to grow. “Some of the kids taught me a lot really about how to converse with them or how to interact with them and so it was just a slow learning curve, I suppose, of just being with the kids. You start doing things like singing, making animal noises that sort of thing – seeing what makes a particular child smile.”

An evolving role…

Over the years, Greg’s involvement with Allowah has taken on various forms. “With the challenges of COVID, it was not really possible to us volunteers to come and be with the children.” But Greg’s other skills meant that he quickly offered to help in other ways and was able to continue volunteering to assist the Facilities team. “These days, I help Bohan [Facility Manager] with different maintenance jobs around the hospital. I also drive the bus so they can have outings with the kids.”

Greg’s journey with Allowah is one of adaptability and service, underscored by a deep-rooted heart for making a difference, no matter the task at hand.

A motivation to serve…

When asked about his motivations for continuing to volunteer, Greg’s answer is simple yet profound: “I see it a bit as a responsibility.” His unwavering belief in the inherent worth of every child fuels his commitment. “These kids are created and loved by God, so I feel that it’s important to do everything we can so that they can live a good and enjoyable life.”

Appreciating their appreciation…

We asked Greg what is it that he enjoys most about volunteering at Allowah. “I think just seeing the reaction of the kids’ faces whenever I’m able to do something for them.” Giving an example of this, Greg shares about how he was able to repair the ‘snow machine’, one of the sensory toys in the facility. “It had been broken for quite some time. And so I repaired it and here comes this little boy, and when he saw that it was working, he just hugged it. And this little kid just really appreciated what I’d done. He just loved the fact that it was working. It was really exciting for me to see that reaction.”

Looking back at 10 years of volunteering…

Greg’s understanding of what it’s like to work with and serve children with complex disabilities comes from a decade of experience and a humble approach that recognises each child is individual and different. “For some of the kids, they’re not interested in the toys or equipment and the only thing I can really do is just sit there, hold their hand and play some music on my phone. If you sort of sing or whistle along, you can just see that they really like you to be there with them and enjoy their presence.”

It’s people like Greg who make Allowah the special community it is, and we thank him for his 10 years with us.

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