Helper finds role brings many benefits

A good fit . . . Otago Community Hospice co-ordinator of volunteers Rebecca Shaw (left) visits the hospice kitchen with regular volunteer Kris Bennett, who finds her role fulfilling. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Volunteering is a natural part of life for Dunedin woman Kris Bennett, who steps up weekly to help out in the Otago Community Hospice kitchen.

Ms Bennett, who has been a hospice volunteer for almost five years, says the role allows her to help and show kindness to patients and their families, and gives her a lot in return.

“I get a lot of social pleasure from it, as well as feeling acknowledged and supported here,” she said.

Ms Bennett has a great fondness for the organisation, which supported her through the devastating experience of losing her partner and mother in the same six-month period.

“The kindness and support I received – even something as simple as being given a nice cup of tea – was just lovely,” she said.

“And I wanted to share that kindness with other people.”

Ms Bennett grew up in a family where strong and active volunteering was the norm, and she has continued the tradition by encouraging her own son to volunteer.

Along with helping out weekly in the hospice kitchen, she also volunteers for three other organisations and sits on the national board of one.

“I’m not in a position to contribute financially, but I can give my time – I see it as my contribution to society.”

Otago Community Hospice co-ordinator of volunteers Rebecca Shaw said Ms Bennett had a “very gentle and patient” way about her and was often involved in orientation for new volunteers.

Ms Bennett in turn feels acknowledged and valued by the hospice as a volunteer, and would like to continue her volunteering efforts for many more years.

On Tuesday night, the hospice held a celebration dinner to celebrate the work of its volunteers and present long-service awards for one 25-year volunteer, two 10-year volunteers, and 14 5-year volunteers.

Ms Shaw said the organisation had 383 volunteers across a broad range of services and relied on them to keep the organisation running successfully.

“Volunteers are very special, and very important to keeping society going,” she said.