San volunteers – making a difference

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The San Help Team’s 500 plus volunteers are  amongst an estimated 1.1 billion world-wide who support arts, education, disability and health providers, and the six million Australian volunteers donating close to 932 million work hours to Australian business and charity.

They are being celebrated this week as part of National Volunteer Week.

The San Help Team’s Manager Patrina McLean says National Volunteers Week is a time to recognise the immense difference that volunteers make, with a series of celebrations being during the week to show the hospital’s appreciation.

In addition over 40 Help Team members are also being recognised for their 10, 15, and 20 years of service milestones.

“Since the San Help Team first started back in 1973, more than 1800 volunteers have donated more than 1.57 million hours of their time," says Ms McLean.

“Ranging from 16 to 94 years, volunteers help with a diverse range of tasks, including chatting with patients, helping the wards with their stock, running errands, greeting visitors, helping with meals, guiding therapy dogs to long-term patients missing their own pets, helping in the Volunteer Snack Bar, to opening our Museum with hospital artefacts," she said.

San Volunteers come from a range of backgrounds, from stay at home mothers to retired chief executives.

"The ways they have supported us are as diverse as their wide skill sets, backgrounds, and their reasons for volunteering.

Quite a few of have been here for more than 30 years.

"Clearly they enjoy what they do and are engaged at the San in making a difference, which is why they keep coming back every week … and we love them.

Our volunteers make the San a very special place,” said Ms McLean.

Felicity Gerard-Helps is one of more than 500 volunteers at the San Hospital who work the equivalent of more than 58000 hours each year as part of the San Help Team.

Also a volunteer at the Salvation Army, Ms Gerard-Helps is recognised during National Volunteer Week for 30 years of volunteering at the San. She spends four hours every Friday in tasks that help patients.

“After my son went to school I decided to start volunteering.

"Initially I was one of the ‘pink ladies’ before we changed to yellow shirts. Thirty years on I’m still here. Volunteering is great.

"I’ve made great friends and it’s really a beautiful community.  I’ve never thought of doing anything else,” Ms Gerard-Helps said.

Fellow Help Team member and 30 year volunteer veteran Rosemary Taylor agrees with her good friend.

“I started volunteering at the San after my mother in law was treated here.

"I’d grown up with the philosophy of its good to contribute and give back, but I’ve actually got more from giving.

"I love providing comfort by talking and spending time with patients. If I walk out of each individual patient’s room and they have a smile on their face then I know I have helped.

"I’ll keep volunteering as long as I can.”

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