Mater Celebrates National Volunteer Week

19/May/2020     Mater Group

National Volunteer Week is the annual celebration acknowledging the generous contributions of our nation’s volunteers from Monday 18 May to Sunday 24 May with the theme ‘Changing Communities. Changing Lives.’

Senior Manager Mater Volunteers Judy Johnson said National Volunteer Week was a great opportunity to recognise the outstanding contribution of our volunteers who give their time so generously to support the work of Mater.

“Our volunteers have a positive impact on patient care whether they are at the bedside or supporting our staff, researchers, educators or donors,” Judy said.

"From patient transport drivers, ward nannies, hand and feet massage volunteers and patient companions to wayfinding ambassadors, admin support, fun run volunteers and many more—volunteers all contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of our community. 

“Our volunteers are living examples of Mater’s values. Their commitment and care deserve our respect.” 

Paulien Anderson

For Paulien Anderson, volunteering at Mater Private Hospital Springfield is a world away from her career life but a welcome opportunity to give back to her community and contribute in a meaningful way. 

Last year Paulien went to her job as an expert in security and risk management not knowing  her life was about to change in an instant.

A terrible accident with a truck resulted in Paulien spending nine weeks in hospital for a traumatic brain injury and numerous factures. 

“I do smile when I get up every day as thirty seconds either way and that truck would have killed me,” she said. 

“My body has healed but my brain injury has kept me at home.  I have memory issues and experience cognitive fatigue if I do too much.

“My volunteer roles as Hand & Feet massage in Cancer care and Companion Dog buddy are great as they are both structured and have a logical flow. If I can make someone’s day a little better that means a lot to me. I know what it’s like to be in hospital.”

She says cancer patients really enjoy the pampering and she loves working with the pet therapy animals.

“Many of our elderly patients miss their own animals so therapy dog Beanie really makes their day. It’s usually only the farming people who don’t want a visit but they still appreciate a chat,” she said.

“Mater is my first volunteering experience and I think it’s important for people to donate their time if they can. Your time is the hardest thing to give up but it makes the biggest difference.”  

Paulien believes there is a reason she is still here and we are grateful to be part of her recovery.  Mater Private Hospital Springfield is lucky to have a volunteer like her in their family.    

While she has not been able to come to Mater Paulien has been spending her time on one of her favourite hobbies, baking!

John Donald

As a Volunteer Patient Transport Driver John Donald spends a lot of time listening to people tell their stories while helping them get to and from medical appointments. 

“I can recognise immediately if they want to talk. It’s inspiring hearing how people overcome life’s difficulties. Other times they just want to be distracted from their worries and that’s good too,” he says.

John fine-tuned his listening skills during his later career as a strategic planning consultant with organisations including hospitals, universities and welfare agencies.

The stories told to him by professional staff had a profound effect on John and he undertook a research degree about the Neglect, Abuse and Violence in Families. 

“So often society addresses the effects on families and overlooks the causes,” he says. 

John ventured to Australia from the UK as a 25 year old business management graduate. 

“It only cost 10 pound and I wanted to travel and see what Australia looked like. I fell on my feet.  I married an Australian girl and landed a job with CSR in 1970.  It was a privilege to work for that company as their sales manager travelling across New South Wales and Queensland,” he says.  

“I continued to travel throughout my retirement. A change of scenery is what life’s about. I travel with my wife every 18 months to the UK and countries like Greece, mostly walking, finding ancient ruins and catching public transport everywhere. It’s the way to meet people and hear their stories.”   

John became a vegetarian eight years ago after a persuasive discussion with his daughter on environmental and animal welfare issues. 

“The rest of the family are yet to follow, but I feel better for it,” he says.

He has been spending his downtime cooking Italian and Indian vegetarian food; his specialities are parmigiana and curries.  

Nanny Jean

Mater Mothers’ Ward Nanny Jean believes that if you are well and active you should do what you can to give back to your community.  So for 11 years she has done just that, supporting families with their newborns at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in South Brisbane. 

“I had my babies at Mater Mothers and knew that once I retired that was where I wanted to give back,” Jean said.

From offering an ear during often challenging and emotional times, to helping to teach new parents how to swaddle their baby, to taking a baby to the parents’ lounge so parents can get a well-earned hours’ rest—Jean is happy to help anywhere she can.

“I love getting to know the families and being there in those first few days of newborn bliss, helping however I can. And of course I love meeting the babies,” Jean said. 

Jean certainly has the skills from parenting two children and being ‘mama’ to six grandchildren and two great grandchildren. 

“It’s important to be there for your children, love them, keep them safe and know when to take a step back and let them do their own thing, “Jean says. 

As a young mother Jean had no car, no access to buses and a husband on shift work.  When her children were young she worked from home in her own dressmaking business. 

“It was hard work but I was home with the kids and could pick them up from school,” Jean says. 

“I made suits, dresses and even wedding dresses. I really like the ‘70’s fashion however my favourite style is from my mother’s era in the 1930’s when dresses were soft and elegant.”

Jean worked as a fashion consultant for Myer and fabric companies until she retired. 

“I always made my own clothes. My son remembers sitting under the pattern books while I looked through them for hours,” Jean said. 

And today Jean enjoys helping out where she can. 

“You have to have empathy for people and treat them the way you would want to be treated,” Jean said.  A simple philosophy and a perfect Mater volunteer.

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