When Mary Brand retired at the end of last year, she decided to dedicate her time to helping those who had helped her family in the past.

The 62-year-old Werribee resident became a volunteer for Legacy, which supports more than 80,000 widows and families of ex-servicemen around Australia.

It was a natural fit for Mrs Brand, whose family struggled when her dad returned after serving with the Army during World War II and was “very disturbed”.

“Mum was what they would now call a virtual widow. It was a hard life growing up,” Mrs Brand said.

“I wanted to help the people who had given help to mum over the years. I wanted to help the widows and the families.

“I knew a little bit about what they did through mum, but I had no idea of the range, and how much they helped families – with children and education. It’s a wonderful organisation.”

Mrs Brand has used her personal experience to bond with the Burnside War Widows group, who she looks after in her role as legatee.

She also volunteers with Werribee RSL, where she does nursing home visits with their welfare officer.

Mrs Brand is one of many volunteers who will be recognised later this month to mark National Volunteer Week, which runs between May 21-27.

For more information about Legacy, or to become a volunteer, call 8626 0500.