Dharruk resident Jan Graham started giving back to health in the Mount Druitt area in 1973.
Today, she is the secretary for the facility’s auxiliary service, which has raised almost $1 million for the hospital.
“Forty-six years ago I started volunteering for Mount Druitt Hospital – except the hospital wasn’t built yet. I offered my services to the ‘poly clinic’ which was the health outreach centre,” Jan said.
“When the hospital was completed, it was the jewel in the crown of Mount Druitt. The community was excited and delighted it was finished.”
The 77 year-old became a patient in the hospital when she was treated for bowel cancer in 2002. Seventeen years later she remains cancer-free and says it’s a pleasure to work for the auxiliary service.
“It’s a family affair volunteering for the hospital, my husband and son help out at the Plumpton Marketplace stall and the hospital gift shop,” Jan said.
“I encourage anyone to volunteer, it’s very rewarding and I enjoy donating equipment to the hospital to help our patients.”
Another volunteer who began volunteering in 1973 was Dulcie Harrison, who recalls the establishment of the hospital committee which campaigned for the establishment of the Western Sydney hospital.
“In 1965 there was an influx of people moving to Western Sydney and there was no hospital between Nepean and Blacktown,” Dulcie remembers.
“The hospital was officially opened in 1983 by Queen Elizabeth and it’s a day I’ll never forget.
“The streets were blocked and the Queen stopped and spoke with people on the roads leading in and out of the hospital – one of these people was my mother.
“The Queen asked my mother what she did at the hospital and mum said she was a volunteer who worked for the hospital ladies committee. Mum was so proud of this moment and her volunteering role.”
The 82 year-old Order of Australia recipient has no plans to retire even though she cares for her 92 year-old husband who has dementia.
Her passion is working at the hospital ordering the flowers for the gift shop, and she hopes to remain as Treasurer of the auxiliary service for as long as she can.
“People should try volunteering – we would welcome younger people, you get so much satisfaction from helping others,” Dulcie said.
Mount Druitt hospital’s general manager Ned Katrib congratulated the volunteers for their dedication to serving the community.
“I’m new to Mount Druitt Hospital but I’d like to personally thank Dulcie and Jan for their longevity and compassion for almost 50 years,” Ned said.
“Most people spend many years in paid work during their lifetime, it’s extraordinary that these special group pf people dedicate their lives to the hospital who serve the community for no monetary benefit.”
Mount Druitt Hospital is currently looking for volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and meet the criteria, contact Janice Low on 0439 920 337.
National Volunteer Week is 20-26 May, 2019 – being the annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers.