Volunteer Week: Selflessness, a vital ingredient

Published 6:00am 23 May 2024

Volunteer Week: Selflessness, a vital ingredient
Words by Kylie Knight

The kitchen at Redcliffe Meals on Wheels is bustling from 5.30am as volunteers including Keith Leadbetter prepare meals for their clients.

The 93-year-old has given his time to the organisation for the past 19 years, joining after his wife died and he thought ‘he had better get out and do something’.

Meals on the Wheels was the perfect fit for Keith, given he and his family had owned a café in Redcliffe for 40 years and he knew a thing or two about food.

He used to volunteer four mornings a week but has, in recent years, reduced his mornings to two each week because his eyesight is deteriorating. He’s there from 5.30-10am on Mondays and Fridays – the busiest days in the kitchen.

Keith has macular degeneration and, while he can’t see faces, he can still cook up a storm.

“I can still work in the kitchen. I used to deliver meals and all of that, but I can’t do that now. I haven’t driven for about seven years now,” he explains.

“They pick me up and drop me home.”

When asked what he does in the kitchen, he’s quick to reply.

“What don’t I do in the kitchen? I do anything. Today, I cut all the carrots and potatoes and stuff up for the meals for this week. I did six trays of carrots … grated carrot to make coleslaw. I cooked mashed potato,” he says.

“We do whatever is going. That’s what we’re here for, to help each other. I enjoy volunteering because when I used to deliver, I used to visit a lot of old people … I liked talking to them and taking their meal to them. You get satisfaction out of helping other people.”

Keith enjoys being part of the Meals on Wheels organisation.

“I enjoy the work I do. I enjoy the fellowship. We’re a good crowd of people. We always enjoy each other’s company. We laugh, we joke … we’re friends. We help each other any way we can,” he says.

“It’s very well run. We’re very professional here. Everything’s got to be exactly right. We’re feeding old people, so we can’t take any chances. We’ve got to be right on the ball with everything.”

The Kippa-Ring resident says anyone who has a spare day, or a few hours, should consider volunteering.

“It’s very satisfying, volunteering. People volunteer in different ways. Some volunteer in op shops to help out. If you’ve got the time, it’s a good way to help other people,” he says.

For more information about Redcliffe Meals on Wheels, visit mealsonwheelsredcliffe.com.au

Volunteer Week: Selflessness, a vital ingredient

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