Volunteers

Reporter: Monika Kos

What would we do without them?

They've raised families, worked the farm, even built a dam and they're still working tirelessly for the Perth community.

They're volunteers and Perth's major hospitals just wouldn't be the same without them.

It's all hands on deck in the canteen at Fremantle Hospital. Valda Timms has been volunteering there for twenty-six years.

Valda's seventy-eight years old and makes the trip north on the bus every Friday.

Valda and the Ladies Auxiliary not only save the hospital money in salaries, they also raise around a $180,000 a year. Money that goes straight into the hospital.

Professor Ruth Letts is the director of nursing and patient support services at Fremantle Hospital and says volunteers often help with the little things, not a priority, but still important to patient care and the hospital ensures they're never taken for granted.

"I tell you what gives me a good feeling, is when you see a hospital transport bus and car and on the door they've got "donated by the ladies Auxiliary". It makes you feel good, makes you feel you're doing something for somebody that can't do it for them" says Valda.

Keith Abercrombie drives a patient transfer van for Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. He's being doing it for twenty years.

At eighty-one, Keith understands the value of patience. In the sixties he was the resident engineer in charge of building Logue Book Dam. These days he's putting his time to good use elsewhere.

Keith clocks-up around a hundred kilometres a shift, but it's not just about driving.

For many patients, volunteers become a life line. The Volunteers themselves benefit, too.

"Otherwise what would you do, you'd be sitting, twiddling your thumbs at home" says Jessie.

Jessie Smith is ninety-four. She's been volunteering at Royal Perth Hospital for an incredible forty-seven years.

"When I first started going around the wards I used to get very tired when I got home and I think it was more emotional going around the wards, but you get used to that and I just enjoy it and I come in now approximately three times a week, but I don't go around the wards anymore, I'm too old".

These days the great grandmother packs envelopes and washes uniforms. Her amazing contribution rewarded with an Order of Australia Medal.

Not only is volunteering important, Jessie says it helps keep her healthy and hopes other people can find time to volunteer too.

"We're a dying breed. I think the young people are all too busy out working to pay their mortgages. What'll happen when there aren't people like you in places like this? That's what I hate to think about. I hate to think that it will have to come to an end because we can't get volunteers".

Anyone interested in volunteering at the Hospitals can call either Royal Perth Hospital on 9224 2036 between 9am and 12 noon weekdays or Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital on 9346 3045.

Fremantle Hospital also welcomes volunteers.