May 19, 2021

Recognising National Volunteer Week

This week marks National Volunteer Week (17 May to 23 May). Our 340 volunteers play an important role at Northern Health across all our sites.

Prior to COVID-19, the volunteers would assist with a variety of roles including guiding, QFlow, tea and coffee services, administration, the Busy Fingers Gift Shop, the Rehab Supply Centre, offered spiritual and palliative care, visited patients on the wards and in nursing homes, helped with social groups, ran an Old Blokes Shed, cuddled babies in the Neonatal Unit and offered breast cancer support.

Henni Wade, Manager Volunteer Services, said the volunteers demonstrated amazing resilience and patience during the pandemic and lockdown. She said many volunteers carried out tasks from the safety of their own home and made cloth masks, knitted, assisted with fundraising activities and sent cards to aged care residents during what was a very difficult year.

“Our volunteers love volunteering at Northern Health because it is their local health service and volunteering enables them to give back to their community,” Henni said.

“Volunteering gives them great satisfaction that they are making a difference and it gives them a routine in their lives. We were so excited to welcome them back on site recently.”

For Angela Dolcetta, there is no better way to mark National Volunteer Week than to do what she loves doing best – volunteering.

“Volunteer Week is coming here and celebrating with the people here,” she said. “Volunteering is not a hard job. For me, it hasn’t been hard. It has been a pleasure for me to do this.”

Angela is commemorating 25 years of volunteering at our health service, and she says the time has flown by since she first stepped foot at Northern Health.

“When I started volunteering, I didn’t think I would stay very long. But I had beautiful people around me that made me feel so welcomed. The 25 years have gone in a flash. For me it’s been the happiest,” she said.

Angela has spent one day a week since 1996 helping out at Bundoora Centre and Ian Brand Nursing Home, bringing traditional Italian coffee and biscuits and providing companionship to many patients over the years.

“One man used to pop his head out and wait for me. It was something they looked forward to,” Angela said.

“There was a lot of Italians and we used to play cards. I would go into the hospital and I would talk to people. It was good because they liked to talk and tell their stories and you are just there to listen.”

“I belonged to a group of Sicilian singers and I used to come here twice, maybe three times a year, and we would perform and they loved it. We played old songs and they really enjoyed it.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia, Northern Health had to suspend volunteer activity across all the sites, and Angela hasn’t been able to volunteer for more than a year. We are slowly welcoming back volunteers across our sites and we are looking forward to seeing Angela and our other volunteers at Northern Health soon.

“I was waiting for Tuesday – that was my day to volunteer,” Angela said.

“Even when I was working, Tuesday was my day. I miss it a lot. At the beginning, I was really scared and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back but I want to come back. I am waiting for the call.”

“I want to bring the coffee and the biscuits. All these little things make them happy and I’ve missed it.”

Featured image: Angela Dolcetta