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Today is International Volunteer Day where we celebrate the contribution our volunteers make to Mater, thank them for their efforts and promote their work among our community. Volunteers from South Brisbane, Springfield and Redland Hospitals shared their stories on why they chose to volunteer with Mater and what keeps them coming back.
Gwen Grant is just one of the many treasured volunteers at Mater Hospital, she does not think her life is extraordinary but to the thousands of people she has helped over the last 25 years she is nothing short of extraordinary.
She is a warm, kind and friendly woman who establishes an instant connection with all she comes in contact with, which makes her the ideal Mater volunteer.
“When I first started, I volunteered in the old children’s hospital spending the first half of my day in admissions and the second half in the Special Care Unit,” she said.
“My role in children’s theatre admissions was to care for the families while their children were having surgery, for some people this was the scariest day of their life. I would make them a cup of tea, bring them some food and try my best to distract them or keep the other siblings occupied.”
The second half of Gwen’s day was spent in the Special Care Unit with premature and ill babies and is something she still does to this day and what she loves most.
“Working in the SCU I sort through donated clothing and write thank you notes for people who had made it. Every now and again there is a very special moment when you get to cuddle a baby, these are the most wonderful moments and I look forward to them so much,” she said.
“When I first came to Mater the “Cuddle Mum” program had just started after another midwife had seen how successful it was in Canada and implemented it here.
“Cuddling the babies was so special, one afternoon I put on the gown, sat in the arm chair and was able to nurse this baby for hours, it was truly beautiful.”
Monica Bittenbinder is a Senior Administrative Officer in the Mater Mother’s Hospital said Gwen constantly amazes her.
“She is nothing short of amazing, everyone in the hospital knows her and we all think she is wonderful. She comes in at the same time each week with a smile on her face and nothing is too much trouble,” she said.
It is undeniable that Gwen’s kindness has touched so many people who have walked through the Mater doors.
“There were so many special moments over the years but I have realised that they are all special moments and I try to focus on what’s happening at the time and be in the moment,” she said.
Jim and Linda Baldwin have lived in the Redlands for the last 32 years and have been volunteering at Mater Private Hospital Redland with a combined 18 years of service.
The husband and wife team have always loved giving back to their local community through school canteens, sporting clubs and other community organisations but in more recent years the couple have found a home away from home at Mater.
Linda explained her motivation for wanting to volunteer with the hospital.
“I started volunteering here 14 years ago after having surgery. I found it was such a warm, friendly place to be and this was my way of giving back to say thank you to the wonderful teams who took such good care of me,” Linda said.
“It’s a very exciting place to be; I come here once a week and help the nursing staff wherever possible. I can do anything from refilling stock, bringing patients warm blankets, distributing cups of tea and admin duties.”
Jim found Linda had been enjoying volunteering with the hospital so much that four years ago he began volunteering and has never looked back.
“I help on the concierge front desk directing people where to go, coming to the hospital can be a difficult or stressful time so I’m glad I can be there when they need it,” Jim said.
Vik Dhana is currently studying medicine at the University of Queensland and has been volunteering at Mater Springfield Private Hospital for six weeks.
“While doing my degree I wanted to have an understanding of how a hospital worked on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
“I help with stocking equipment, cleaning and companionship with patients by bringing them cups of tea and coffee or chatting with them to keep them company. I have a deeper appreciation of hospital staff and patient experience.
“Volunteering gives me a sense of responsibility and purpose, I can see all the small moments add up and they make a difference.”
Mater Senior Manager of Volunteers Judy Johnson said all her volunteers were valued members of the hospital.
“Volunteers contribute over 80,000 hours every year to the Mater. That equates to thousands of moments of kindness and support,” she said.
To find out more about volunteering at Mater please contact 07 3163 8599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
07 3163 1524
07 3163 6142
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