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four people looking at the photographer, three holding certificates.

CHHC General Manager Lydia Dennett presents retiring volunteers Ron Swadling, Wayne Crowther and Margaret Kelly with certificates of achievement acknowledging their many years of service.

Coffs honours its generous volunteers

May 26, 2022

A special National Volunteer Week gathering was held at Coffs Harbour Health Campus last week to honour the volunteers who work so hard to support Health staff, patients and visitors.

More than 30 volunteers attended the function, hosted by Facility Support Manager Jo Shaw.

General Manager Lydia Dennett and Director of Nursing and Midwifery Carmen Morgan were also present to pay homage to a team of volunteers who selflessly give their time and energy to the hospital, volunteering with the Coffs Harbour Pink Ladies, the Coffs Harbour Health Campus General Volunteers, the Coffs Harbour Health Campus Mental Health Unit, Coffs Harbour Palliative Care Volunteers, Pastoral Care, Music in the Hospital, Red Cross, and Community Support Dogs.

Ms Dennett spoke of the economic contribution of volunteers to the Australian economy, which totals more than $200 billion a year, outstripping revenue sources from mining, agriculture and retail sectors.

“They are incredible figures, but they are not the sum total of the value of volunteering,” Ms Dennett said.

“You are worth much more than the calculated $200 billion economic benefit to this country.

“In fact, your value can never be measured in dollars and cents.

“Who can place a value on the connections you make with visitors coming into this facility – people who are worried about their dad with dementia, their wife with cancer or their child in need of surgery?

“I’ve seen people with worry etched on their faces enter this hospital and be met by a volunteer in an orange shirt with a big smile and an even bigger heart. Who can place a value on the relief someone feels when greeted by a volunteer who wants to help them, who shares a kind word or a compassionate smile?

“Who can place a value on the hours our volunteers spend with someone who is dying, listening to their stories about loved ones, past and present; or the events that shaped a person’s life?

“Who can place a value on the coffee served at the Pink Ladies Café to staff who have had the most challenging of days? I can tell you from experience, cost and value are not the same thing.

“We know the Coffs Harbour Pink Ladies have donated more than $3 million worth of medical equipment and patient comfort items to this hospital, but $3 million is a long way short of the value of their donation if it is your loved one connected to one of their vital signs monitors or your grandchild in a Paediatric Emergency Department transformed from a white, scary place into an underwater wonderland thanks to one of the most beautiful murals you will see anywhere.

Who can place a value on the unconditional love shared between a Community Support Dog and a mental health patient?

“So, to each and every one of you, thank you for making the Coffs Harbour a better place.”

The achievements of two volunteers, in particular, were highlighted – Helen Mears named 2021 NSW Health Volunteer of the Year and 2021 Centre for Volunteering’s NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year. The General Volunteers coordinator Denise McNeil was also mentioned for her outstanding work, which has led to her being nominated as Volunteer of the Year in the 2022 MNCLHD Health Innovation Awards.

Certificates of achievement were also presented to retiring volunteers Ron Swadling, Wayne Crowther and Margaret Kelly acknowledging their many years of service.

a room of people with two on stage in the background

Coffs Harbour Health Campus Volunteers celebrated Volunteer Week with a luncheon. Members form the Pink Ladies, General Volunteers, Community Service dogs, Cancer Council, Palliative Care, Red Cross and Pastoral Care volunteer groups attended.

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