Otago hospice volunteer happy in his work

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The happiest people are not those who are getting more, but those who are giving more.

Bill Willis is a case in point. He says volunteering at the Otago Community Hospice has given him a feeling of joy and reward like he has never felt before.

“When I go home after a shift, I feel gratified,” Mr Willis said.

“You feel as though you’ve actually achieved something even if it’s just bringing a smile to someone’s face, or giving them something that they really need.”

Now the Otago Community Hospice is giving other Dunedin residents an opportunity to experience that same happiness.

The organisation is calling for volunteers to help in the facility’s kitchen, one day per week.

Mr Willis, a retired radio sales representative and general manager, has been volunteering in the hospice kitchen for about a year, as a way to give back to the community.

“My sister died in a Christchurch hospice and when I saw the ad calling for volunteers here, I thought it would be ideal.”

He said the hospice’s chef pre-prepared a lot of food during the day, but his job in the afternoon was to do the cup-of-tea rounds at 3pm and check what the patients wanted for dinner.

He then helped make some of the meals.

“I love making omelettes so I try to sell the omelettes. I’m the omelette king.”

He also helped clean the dishes and appliances afterwards.

“We do a little bit of everything – a little bit of waitering, a bit of cooking and quite a lot of cleaning as well.

“We have a little bit of patient contact – not a great deal – but it’s meaningful, and hopefully it puts a smile on their face.

“It does depend though. There are times here when the whole thing is so sad, that a smile is totally inappropriate.

“Empathy and being able to read people is important.”

He paid tribute to the staff at the hospice, for the great work they do and the excellent training they give to volunteers.

“Without getting too emotional, the staff here are just totally brilliant. They’re absolutely wonderful.

“It’s a joy to come to work on the one day a week that I do.”

He encouraged anyone interested in volunteering in the hospice’s kitchen, to contact the hospice directly.