In March this year a team of volunteers from Optus came and joined Easy Care Gardening to help out in the garden. They snipped, weeded, raked and mulched through Corin’s garden, transforming it from an overgrown yard, back into a garden. Optus is one of the many corporate volunteering groups who partner with Easy Care Gardening to make a difference to people like Corin.

Gardening for our most frail and vulnerable members of the community is what Easy Care Gardening Inc. is all about. We’ve been doing it for over three decades in the Hornsby Shire, Ku-ring-gai Council, The City of Ryde and Hunters Hill Council. These areas are often bordered by bush, so keeping environmental weeds like privet, lantana and camphor laurel under control has extra importance for our environment.

Our teams of volunteers includes hundreds of regulars, but are supplemented with enormous effort from some corporate teams joining our crews. The extra peoplepower gives teams the chance to tackle some gardens that have become jungles, with many hands truly making light work.

In the case of Optus and Corin’s garden, Easy Care Gardening coordinator Jenny Nakhla said the “team were so happy and in such high spirits at morning tea Corin felt she was hosting a party rather than a strenuous working bee.” It certainly is a productive way of working off those COVID curves! 

At the end of the day Corin said to the volunteers that she “just wanted to hug you all.” Whilst we all know that means virtual hugs during COVID-19, it’s worth noting that Easy Care Gardening Incorporated is one of the volunteer organisations which has been able to continue safely delivering services throughout 2020/21 thanks to the outdoor nature of the work and an ability to safely socially distance team members and volunteers between the front and back yards.

So what’s in it for the volunteers? Here’s what a few of them had to say. “Never underestimate your ability to make someone else’s life BETTER, even if you never know it! I loved the experience and how we made the house owner so happy,” saidMohammad Younes, Manager, Technology Platforms.

For one new member of the Optus team who had joined Optus through the pandemic and had not yet met anyone face to face, Associate Director, DT Platform Management, Toni Vlatkoseconded that, saying, “what a great way to bond with your work mates while giving back to the community.”

Optus has been an active contributor in the community since they first started, and their  yes4good workplace giving and volunteer programme has made a significant difference to hundreds of community organisations over the years. “At Optus we’re passionate about making a difference in the community and enabling our people to roll up their sleeves and provide support where needed the most, from general volunteering right through to skilled type volunteering programs,” said Optus Sustainability Director Helen Maisano.

From the point of view of Optus Platform Owner DT Platform Management Simone Proudlock it was an “amazing experience and felt great being able to offer our services through the Optus yes4good Volunteer Program to be able help people in need. A great day was had by all!” It’s clear that gardening is a great “team sport”!

Benefits of gardening are something backed up by science, of course, with the vitamin D from sunshine, the endorphins from the exercise and the fresh air all contributing to our physical wellbeing. What’s also shown in studies is how good for your mental health gardening is, coupled with the opportunity to give back to community, it’s no wonder there were smiles all round. At the end of the day, looking at what was achieved by this team all before lunch, it’s no wonder they were chuffed. If you’re interested in getting your crew out and about to help one of the hardest hit groups in the community, then make a difference with Easy Care Gardening. We will provide all the tools of the trade, training and all you need to do it is turn up with closed-in shoes. No green thumbs required, just kind hearts and a willingness to help.