Former Lutheran Women of WA president Rosemary Davidson has willingly given of her time and talents in many ways in her church and community over 50 years.
But she doesn’t think of herself as a volunteer, rather those who know her would say helping others has just come naturally to her. Some people she has cared for see Rosemary as a mentor and an inspiration.
One of her inspirations is from Ephesians 2:10, in which St Paul says: ‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (ESV).
As a young wife with three children, in the country town of Pingelly, approximately 150 kilometres south-east of Perth, she and husband Robert volunteered in community clubs, sports clubs, the theatre and through school and church connections.
Later, she was on the Christian Women Communicating International committee, was a KYB (Know Your Bible) study leader, was involved with prayer groups, taught dancing and organised debutante balls. She also helped out through connections with local Christian churches, taught first aid for St John Ambulance and became a Grade 2 ambulance officer.
For 10 years she taught Scripture lessons at the local school and became
an accredited first aid trainer. Later, while living in Perth, first aid training became her paid employment. One door that work opened for Rosemary was the chance to go to Bali to teach first aid with longtime Lutheran friend June Westhoff.
In the early 1980s, during her work as a part-time nursing assistant at Pingelly Hospital, Rosemary was nominated for the Mrs WA Quest to raise money for cerebral palsy support. It was a daunting experience, but turned out to be a wonderful witnessing opportunity.
‘As a 29-year-old country girl, I had hardly been to Perth, so it was a shock to be attending the judging with 43 ladies in career and homemaker sections’, she says. ‘I received the award and I knew that I was to speak about my faith as a Christian and sharing knowledge about those who were disabled.
‘I thanked God and told the parents that one day, in heaven, their children would be running free and beautiful. They were crying with faith and hope of this, as life is not easy with disabilities.’
Rosemary was also presented with a Community Service Award by the Pingelly Shire in 1984-85, while her husband Robert was awarded the Pingelly Sportsman Award in 1986-7. ‘This was a tremendous honour for me as there are so many other people who work quietly and faithfully for years’, she says.
Rosemary believes that when people use their gifts and talents to serve others, this builds community – and allows God’s will to be ‘done, on earth as it is in heaven’. However, she believes when we judge others or fail to show gratitude to our volunteers, we risk turning people off being involved.
‘The church would draw people to want to belong, if only we could care and serve with more love and outreach, and less judgement’, she says. ‘If a volunteer becomes tired – or even perhaps sick and tired! – they need a rest. Our mental attitude to serve needs to be willing, able and joyful, with thanks to God for being able to serve. When volunteers become critical, snappy, judgemental and bitter because of their commitments, we are allowing ourselves to drive away those who are watching our actions, hearing our comments, complaints and disputes.
‘To remain joyful in volunteering, one has to feel wanted and appreciated.’