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Meet Julia Plank - Westfield Local Heroes 2021

Win-win for aged care

Elder Care Volunteers
Compassionate. Philanthropic. Enterprising

Julia Plank has brought joy and friendship to people in aged care since she founded Elder Care Volunteers.

Julia has been volunteering in aged care since she was in high school and struck up a special friendship with a resident who had no family or friends to support him during his cancer treatment.

Knowing how much her friendship meant to him, she set up her charity to provide companionship to other aged-care residents who feel lonely and stressed.

Over the last six years, she has recruited and trained over 100 volunteers who visit 150 people in four care homes.

It’s a win-win. The older people enjoy the company and get to give back by sharing their skills, knowledge and advice with the volunteers.

Julia juggles running the charity with full-time PhD studies but is motivated by the wonderful friendships she has enjoyed with elderly people as a volunteer.

She is grateful to be nominated as a Westfield Local Hero. “Although New Zealand has an ageing population, the wellbeing of the elderly is pushed aside in favour of other causes.

This nomination gives me hope that others are starting to recognise the importance of connecting with the elderly,” says Julia.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Elder Care Volunteers will use its funds to expand its volunteer program to more care homes.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here