Social interaction and job satisfaction are just two of the benefits of being a volunteer according to one septuagenarian.

Eileen Welles made the decision to become a Tauranga Hospital volunteer 18 months ago and, as National Volunteer Week is celebrated this week, says she would encourage others to do the same.

"I had retired and after about six months I was absolutely bored to death," said the former soft furnishings manufacturer. "I was 68 at the time.

"Then I got a phonecall from my sister Kathleen one day, and she said she couldn't talk for long because she was working that day as a volunteer at her local hospital. She had been a radiographer but carried on volunteering after she retired. I thought that sounds good."


Ms Welles contacted Volunteer Coordinator Lesley Grant and she now volunteers as a hospital guide three mornings a week. The 70-year-old directs patients and visitors from her station outside the lifts on Tauranga Hospital's second floor.

"With a lot of people, the lift door opens and out they come not knowing whether to go left or right. I'm really just here to make life easier. Lots of people are very complimentary about the volunteers, saying what a wonderful job we do, which is nice. And when you've shown people where to go they always come back to say thank you again before they leave."

Ms Welles said she gets a huge amount out of volunteering.

"I love the personal interaction with people. I am actually quite a shy person but when I'm interacting with people I come out of myself.

"I also enjoy the structure it gives to my week. I think that's more important than a lot of people realise as you get older. It keeps me focused, three times a week I say I'm at 'work'.

"I would encourage anyone to do it. For young people it's great work experience and for older people it's just a great thing to do. People often say to me they've thought about doing it. I tell them it's very easy, you only have to put your hand up and offer your time."

There are many different volunteering opportunities including being a helper on the wards, host/hostess in the Transit Lounge or Cancer Centre, patient trolley assistant, concierge or even a musician, to help brighten the day for patients and visitors.

If you're interested in volunteering contact Volunteer Coordinator Lesley Grant on (07) 579 8650 or 027 8070258 or email