Man’s best friend

Brett and Jasper bring smiles to the faces of our clients as a volunteer team.

More than 170 volunteers help Connect Health & Community deliver our vital health services.

They donate their time, skills and support, to work with our staff as drivers, program support staff and assistants across nearly every part of our business.

Connect Health & Community volunteers come from all walks of life – even the four-legged kind!

Eight year-old Jasper, a border collie and certified therapy pet, became an instant hit when he joined the Connect Health & Community family, with his human Brett, in November.

The dynamic duo work as a driver and jockey team in our Community Transport area, collecting clients and bringing them to us for a range of services.

With Brett behind the wheel, Jasper assumes the role of host, sitting up front until the first passenger gets in, then welcoming each newcomer with a big smile and soft cuddles, before ‘working the bus’ as it makes its merry way to our Gardeners Rd centre.

“It’s a great trip. We all sing, Jasper roams the bus with pats and snuggles, and everyone has a great time,” says Brett. “We all love it.” As a volunteer, Jasper’s impact was quickly obvious.

“Our clients just love Jasper,” said Brett. “We had one client who wasn’t keen on coming to physio. Before Jasper, our client would never be ready, and his wife was always trying to get him out the door – but now Jasper is here, that client is always waiting for us and loves getting on the bus,” Brett said.

“I was retired, hurt and in a very bad place, but Jasper really helped turn things around for me,” the former plumber said.

Brett and Jasper drive for Connect Health & Community on Wednesdays when Brett is able, as he is constrained by chronic pain and mobility issues.

Jasper’s journey to becoming a therapy pet and volunteer aligned with Brett’s rehabilitation, and he is now popular everywhere he goes – always wearing his Connect Health ID card and licence when on the job.

Brett said his rewards from volunteering are many.

“I love other people and volunteering is a great way to connect with people now that I can’t work. My bus run is so much fun. We’re the only bus that sings all the time – many clients say Wednesday is their favourite day,” he said.

“But the best thing is just seeing people so happy. When they see Jasper it is like they have never seen a therapy dog before. He just brightens up people’s lives so much, I don’t know how he does it,” he said.

 

“I love other people and volunteering is a great way to connect with people"

Improving wellbeing

Two community murals were developed to brighten social spaces when we worked with Castlefield Community Centre, Bayside City Council, DHHS and Victoria Police to improve the quality of life for residents on the Hampton East Public Housing Estate.


Read more