The pleasure of giving back

By Mike Dinsdale

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DEDICATED: Northland District Health Board volunteers (from left) Kaitaia Hospital customer services worker Dawn Hargreaves, Shuttlebug driver John Marsh, customer service worker Betsy Jones, customer service worker Thelma McMurchy; children's playroom co-ordinator Shirley Blackwell and driver Ron Murray are among more than 70 people who give up their free time to put something back into their community.
DEDICATED: Northland District Health Board volunteers (from left) Kaitaia Hospital customer services worker Dawn Hargreaves, Shuttlebug driver John Marsh, customer service worker Betsy Jones, customer service worker Thelma McMurchy; children's playroom co-ordinator Shirley Blackwell and driver Ron Murray are among more than 70 people who give up their free time to put something back into their community.

Volunteering is all about giving something back to your community - but you can also have a great time while doing it - at least two of the more than 70 Northland District Health Board volunteer workers say.

This week is Volunteer Week, when we celebrate and recognise the efforts of the thousands of people across the region who give up their own time to help others.

Northland DHB chief executive Nick Chamberlain said the 70-plus volunteers within Northland DHB were key to the smooth running of the organisation.

"These people give up their time to help patients, visitors and staff. Many of them have become familiar faces around Northland DHB and are valuable to the organisation," Dr Chamberlain said.

Every volunteer brings their unique personality and their willingness to make other peoples' lives a little easier when entering the hospital, regardless of whether they are staff, visitors or patients.

For many of these volunteers, their gift of time began in 2000 with the new service of meeting and greeting people and directing them to their required areas, which were forever changing due to the rebuild.

Every year the volunteers clock up between 6000 and 7000 hours. The total hours worked by volunteers at Whangarei Hospital since records began in 2002 is about 88,000 hours.

Shirley Blackwell has been volunteering in the children's playroom for several years and loves it.

"I just love children and really enjoy helping them while they are here and I get a lot of satisfaction from it. One of the boys the other day said 'you're lucky, you get to be a child every day, cool eh?' and he's right," Ms Blackwell said.

"Kids are just so special and it's nice to give something back."

Volunteer driver Ron Murray has been driving Whangarei Hospital's Shuttlebug that takes people from the carparks to the main entrance for the past seven years.

"It's giving a service to the public and many (patients) are in a lot of need so it's good to be able to help them.

"It's about giving something back to your community and you get a lot of satisfaction from helping people," Mr Murray said.

"The gratitude that's shown is very, very rewarding."

The DHB is always looking for volunteers and for those who would like to volunteer at Whangarei Hospital, it has vacancies for volunteers in meet and greet and driving the Shuttlebug. For information, tact Rose Armstrong, Volunteer Coordinator on 4304 101 ext 7802.

- Northern Advocate

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