The San Celebrates National Volunteer Week, May 21-27 2018
83 year old grandmother Barb Ramsay is one of thousands of Australians estimated to volunteer over 900 million hours a year, yet says she gives far more than she gets.
Celebrating National Volunteer Week and the theme of "Give a little. Change a lot", Barb says volunteering has given her life purpose and focus since her husband Owen passed away over 14 years ago.
Now one of over 460 San Help Team members, Barb and her husband came to the San to use the Cancer Support Services after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“Even though it was cancer we came into a world of love and care” Barb says.
“Owen had been fit and active, a local referee and volunteered as a life saver. They think the cancer had started growing 20 years before. We had 9 months of being able to come here weekly and access support services and meet people going through the same thing. There were 20 others that we met and feeling sorry for them made a big difference to the way we coped. Afterwards I was able to go to the grief courses. It was all traumatic but I wanted to come back and be part of the San and be part of Christianity in action.
For ten years I volunteered in the San Snax cafe; because of what I’ve been through I have a lot of empathy and sometimes I can see in patients’ faces what they are going through. I don’t think I do a lot but giving to people can help brighten their day.”
Barb’s tasks are many - feeding unwell patients, making cups of tea for chemotherapy patients, running errands, and keeping patients company.
“One time I simply held the hand of a patient who had Parkinson’s who was waiting for her husband. I love the fact that we can do small things like that to help the wonderful nurses so they can do something else.”
Barb does a 4 hour shift at the San each week, complementing her other volunteering efforts including teaching IPAD use to seniors at Epping, but she says it makes her proud and happy to be part of the strong volunteer team at the San.
“ I feel happy when I’m walking out. I look back and say thanks for a lovely day at the San. I’ve made a lot of friends here. I get a lot out of it - definitely more than I give.”
The San’s dedicated Volunteer Help Team is celebrating National Volunteer Week 21-27 May.
While the theme is ‘Give a little. Change a lot’, the San’s Help Team is known for giving lots and make a huge difference. Team members are a much loved and invaluable part of the Hospital.
Patrina McLean, Manager of the San Help Team, shares some of the history and great work that they do.
“The Volunteer program at the San started back in July 1973 with pink ladies. Then a new Volunteer program was set-up in the year 2000 where the pink changed to rays of sunshine yellow...and it has grown from strength to strength. The tally of volunteer hours contributed to the hospital up until May this year is 1,500,000 hours!
On average, the Volunteers at the San contribute about 60,000 hours per year. The program is hugely successful due to such a fabulous commitment from the local community. Over 460 Volunteers come into the San on a weekly basis, where they work side-by-side with staff on the wards and in the many departments. The minimum commitment for a San Volunteer is one four-hour shift per week.
Some areas of work are particularly rewarding to both our volunteers and patients. For example:
- the Meal Team who assist patients with their meals while keeping them company
- Patient Carers, who spend time chatting to patients and also running errands like buying newspapers
- Our volunteers add value to the experience that our patients have at the San by spending time with children and their parents pre-op, helping people find their way, pick-ups from Pathology, Radiology, Pharmacy if requested
- The San Snax cafe, which many Volunteers help out in with preparing fresh food options like sandwiches and wraps daily and helping with the front of shop. The Volunteers have formed many wonderful friendship groups over the years and enjoy helping the patients and visitors that come into the shop.”