Alan Thomas has been volunteering for hospice in Red Beach for 25 years, providing transport and helping with patient groups, fundraising and kitchen duties. Spiritual Carer Vincent Maire, left, with five-year volunteer Peter Bentley at the long-service awards. They met over 20 years ago when their daughters were in pony club together.
Volunteers who have collectively given more than 1000 years’ service to hospice were recently honoured in community celebrations.
Harbour Hospice held presentations in the three communities where it provides free palliative care and family support services – the Hibiscus Coast, North Shore and Warkworth/Wellsford, recognising a total of almost 150 staff and volunteers for long-service milestones ranging from five to 30 years.
Among them were Alan Thomas, who began volunteering for the Hibiscus Coast hospice when he retired 25 years ago. He has helped countless patients, by driving them to and from hospice day programmes and hospital appointments and he also helps run the men’s group, washes dishes and volunteers at fundraising events.
Another local volunteer, Peter Bentley, unpacks and sorts donated goods at the Orewa hospice shop one morning a week. After five years he is no longer surprised when someone drops in and stays for a chat. Often, he says, they are recently bereaved and in need of a sympathetic ear.
“Everyone who comes in says thank you for all you do, meaning the whole hospice team,” Peter says. “It’s a good feeling and it doesn’t cost much.”
Both Peter and Alan say that volunteering for hospice has made them more appreciative of their own good health, and more conscious of savouring every day.
“I feel fortunate that I can still help,” Alan says. “If I can help make someone more comfortable, I’m happy to do that.”
Hospice relies on its 1500 volunteers to support fundraising, administration, and patient and family services. Based on the minimum wage, volunteers donate more than $3 million worth of work hours every year.
They make thousands of jars of jam and pairs of slippers, provide companionship and record life stories for patients, run events, sort and repair donated goods, cater for family functions, and perform countless other roles. Their contribution ensures that hospice nurses, doctors and family teams can continue giving professional and compassionate care to patients and their families.