Celebrating our volunteers: Michael’s story

Long time House with No Steps volunteer Michael is featured in the 50 Faces: A Portrait of the Northern Beaches photography exhibition during National Volunteer Week.

House with No Steps volunteer, Michael
May 10, 2016

House with No Steps volunteer Michael is featured in 50 Faces: A Portrait of the Northern Beaches photography exhibition during National Volunteer Week (9-15 May).

On his daily lunchtime walks, Michael McLean used to pass the head office of House with No Steps in Belrose. The charity piqued his interest because, although Michael had always undertaken fundraising drives and done some odd volunteering, he was hoping to make a more routine contribution to the community. Michael made an enquiry into the companion volunteering programme and, after an application and interview process, was introduced to Denis. Denis was in his 60’s and bound to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy.

When they first shared time together, Denis was living independently and Michael would drop in to visit about once a fortnight. They’d play computer games and chat, or pay a call to the nearby bowling alley. Denis had a penchant for bowling and became even more passionate about the sport once he’d beaten Michael. After a time, Denis moved into an aged care home and the focus of Michael’s visits have shifted to getting Dennis out and about, possibly to visit his old neighbourhood.

Their friendship was cemented when Michael pushed Denis up Heartbreak Hill, the year they decided to take on City2Surf together. Three years on, Michael and Denis have made plenty of memories and Michael’s life has been infused with a new perspective.

Photograph and words by Jennifer Polixenni Brankin