Antoinette ‘Toni’ Russell couldn’t think of anything more fulfilling in life than being a volunteer.

Fighting fit at the age of 80, the Kingsley great grandmother has spent the past 14 years contributing her time at not-for-profit organisations including Juniper and Red Cross.

A former nurse, Toni’s volunteer days at Juniper began with weekly visits to a Home Care client who lived nearby in Kingsley.

Toni would visit the client at home, taking her shopping and for picnics. Following a fall, she moved to Juniper Riverslea Residential Aged Care Home, where Toni continued to visit her regularly.

While the client has since passed away, Toni still volunteers at Juniper Riverslea, hosting weekly scrabble sessions with residents she has come to know well.

In addition to being a Juniper volunteer, Toni is also a regular blood donor for the Red Cross and is also volunteer caller for wellbeing service Telecross, where she carries out daily check-ins on isolated and vulnerable people seven-days-a-week.

Toni’s dedication to volunteering hasn’t gone unnoticed – she was recently acknowledged for her selfless contribution to the Western Australian community after being nominated for the 2023 WA Senior Australian of the Year Award.

“It was overwhelming to be one of four nominated for the award, but I didn’t think I should be included as there are other people who are much more worthy them me,” she laughed.

“When you volunteer, you don’t do it for the recognition. You do it because you want to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

Toni said being a volunteer isn’t just about giving back to others – it also gave her a sense of purpose in life knowing that she can bring happiness to others.

“For me, volunteering is more about the companionship, as there are a lot of lonely people out there and it’s nice to be able to help provide support,” Toni said.  “Fortunately, I’m very healthy, and there is a great need for volunteers in the community.

“I’d love to continue doing it and I don’t envisage stopping anytime soon.”

While Toni has dedicated countless hours to helping others, she credits keeping fit and leading a healthy lifestyle as the key to longevity.

“I walk 8km every day and I also play tennis,” she said. “I think keeping active everyday is important for your mental wellbeing.”

Interested in making a difference in the WA community? Find out how you can join Juniper’s passionate team of volunteers here.

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