In 1858 the community of Kilmore realised they needed a hospital to service the growing town. Banding together, they raised £1,269. In today’s money, $200,000.
The government of the time contributed an extra £500. The hospital was opened in 1860 as a result of this mammoth achievement, treating 86 patients in its first year. Today, Kilmore and District Hospital is one of the largest employers in the region and performs more than 1,500 surgeries a year.
In addition to its staffing base, the hospital has a substantial volunteer network. Jitka Jilich, who is the community engagement officer and a social worker, says volunteers are crucial to the success of the hospital.
“It’s the little things that count the most,” she says. “As little as one hour a week of your time can make a huge difference to others.” Volunteers Carol and Gary Roberts, and Ruby Bonner agree.
While volunteers are important across all areas of the hospital, it’s the aged care facilities at Caladenia (high needs) and Dianella (low needs) where the impact may be felt the most.
From shared conversations, helping with activities and meal times or helping residents attend events in town, Carol, Gary and Ruby say they know their effort is valued. They also agree that there is deep fulfilment in helping people at a vulnerable stage in life.
Jitka says that new volunteers are always welcome, and there is a strong sense of community in the group. “There are many areas you can help across,” she says. “From the hospital, to aged care, auxiliary and our op-shop, we’ll find something for you.”