Nelson woman Mary Garner, has spent the last 30 years enabling volunteers to make a difference in the lives of those who are unwell.
Garner began working for the Nelson Tasman Hospice in 1987 and her role was to establish a volunteer service within the organisation.
When she began, there were about six volunteers in the office. Garner established roles that allowed volunteers to work directly with patients and nearly three decades on, there are close to 400 volunteers working in 30 different roles.
Those volunteers deliver services that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, from working in the region’s hospice shops, selling raffle tickets, maintaining the gardens, supporting
the bereaved, and delivering beds to people’s homes.
Garner has been awarded a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for services to the community.
The service she is most proud of is life story writing. Where those who are dying are able to tell their life story, with the help of a volunteer to document it.
“It can be quite poignant sometimes, people will tell the life story writer something they have never told anyone else.” It was empowering for people who were often subject to lots of medical treatment.
“It gives them a chance to revisit the good bits and put to bed the bad bits.”
She enjoyed setting up new roles and seeing them function really well. Since 2002, the hospice had recorded more than 8000 volunteer referrals and her contributions had left an enduring positive impact on the community.