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By Bonny Burrows

Working alongside the health professionals of St John of God Berwick Hospital is a 70-strong team of volunteers who work hard to ensure everything runs smoothly.
BONNY BURROWS learnt from one volunteer during National Volunteer Week of 8-14 May how donating her time had given so much in return.

For Joy Johanning, volunteering was what kept her together while her world was falling apart.
Alone, without much sense of purpose after losing her husband shortly after retirement, battling cancer and moving into an aged-care village, Joy was visiting a friend at St John of God Berwick Hospital and on a whim she picked up some paper work to become a volunteer.
“I’d never thought to volunteer, because it didn’t seem to be me. I was always busy,” Joy said.
“But, just like that, when I was at the hospital with June, I thought “it’d be nice to come back (here) and do something’. I just didn’t know what.”
Walking through the doors on her first day with a belly full of butterflies two and a half years ago, little did she know that her decision to take a chance would change her life for the better.
Looking back now, she laughs when thinking of her nerves.
The “meet and greet” volunteer, who assists patients upon submission into the wards, hasn’t regretted her decision for a moment.
“It’s the most awesome thing that’s ever happened to me,” Joy said.
“And to think I was so nervous about it when I started.”
In her time as a volunteer, Joy has found a purpose in her life she didn’t know she was missing.
Donating her time to the hospital every Thursday and two Mondays and Fridays of the month, she said she does it just as much for herself as for others.
Without the hospital, she doesn’t know where she’d be.
“It may be selfish, but I just love it. It’s that simple,” Joy said.
“It’s beautiful to have something you love which brings so much joy and it really is wonderful to be a volunteer at St John of God Hospital – it’s a very special place.”
St John of God Berwick Hospital volunteer and community relation co-ordinator Gillian Coyle said volunteers such as Joy made the world of difference.
“We are privileged to have so many caring and compassionate members of the community who wish to help people in our hospital, Ms Coyle said.
“Most of our volunteers have chosen to volunteer at the hospital due to personal experience – either as a patient or carer of a loved one who has spent time in St John of God Berwick Hospital.
The co-ordinator said volunteering benefitted both the volunteer and the organisation.
“We are thankful that our volunteers see real value in what they do and know that every day they make a difference,” Ms Coyle said.
“Volunteering is a rewarding experience, being able to give your time to others is priceless.”
Contact the hospital on 9709 1414 for more information on volunteering.

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