Vishnu PrasadVishnu Prasad makes quilts for returned soldiers.

When Vishnu Prasad retired in 2003 his cousin suggested he become a Justice Of The Peace. He jumped at the chance, keen to help others and stay busy.

Being involved in things in the community meant I was mentally prepared for retirement, he says.

I actually got even more involved in volunteering work after retiring because I had more spare time.

We’ve paid off our house and don’t want anything extra so it makes sense to get rewards in a more substantial way through volunteering.

Volunteering as a JP at two centres would be enough to satisfy most septuagenarians, but not Vishnu.

As a curiosity, my wife suggested we take up patchworking, he says. Now we are part of team of volunteers who make patchwork quilts for Quilts of Valour – an organisation that provides quilts to wounded returned soldiers with the support of Apex and Lions clubs.

These days we don’t have much spare time. We keep ourselves busy. Until recently, I delivered a weekly Hindi segment at the community radio station in Cranbourne.

Part of ‘keeping busy’ for Vishnu and his wife, Margaret, entails helping provide food for homeless people in Dandenong.

Just last night we were at Dandenong Market serving hot soup, tea, sandwiches and home-cooked food to homeless people, Vishnu says. Margaret and I get so much personal reward from volunteering.

Their contributions haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2016, Vishnu was nominated by the Wesley Mission to be Senior Victorian of the Year in recognition of his efforts in promoting multiculturalism. Vishnu deservedly won the award.

There’s a sincere happiness that comes with contributing, he says.

For a start, it means we’re not sitting idle. That’s enough of a reason I would encourage older people to volunteer for something they enjoy, or have skills in. It’s a great way to give back, and feel like an essential part of the local community.