A gentle smile and kind words are freely given with your perfect mix of lollies at Manning Hospital when Fay Erickson is volunteering.
Once a week for 20 years Fay has slipped on a Pink Ladies apron to work in the kiosk. On the surface it looks a simple job - packing lollies, selling food and magazines – but the retail transaction is only part of the Pink Ladies volunteer description. The fine print on the non-existent job description reveals it is also about caring conversations and creating connections with people during times of personal stress.
Manning Hospital's Pink Ladies Volunteer Auxiliary recently recognised Fay’s 20 years of service and she simply acknowledged the honour by saying, “it is quite an achievement”.
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Former Manning Hospital Pink Ladies Volunteer Auxiliary president, Merle Hodges invited Fay to join the team in 1998, and at the time Fay recalls thinking, “what a lovely idea”.
After working in the Chatham High School library for almost 25 years, Fay thought it was important to contribute to her community.
She says she started wheeling the lolly trolley through the hospital and laughs as she reflects on the changes in sales quantities.
“When I first started on the lolly trolley, sometimes we would only make $4 or $5-a-day from going around the wards, whereas now, sometimes they will come back and will have sold $60 worth of lollies,” Fay laughs.
“There are probably a few things that have boosted sales; the hospital is bigger, visitors also look forward to the lolly trolley and people are more willing to spend $10 on lollies!”
Fay’s typical volunteer day starts around 7am on a Thursday and she stays until noon. Although she says she can do up to three shifts a week if she is needed.
I really enjoy it. I go around the wards first thing in the morning and it's just lovely meeting the patients.Fay Erickson
“Sometimes you might do the wards really quickly, and other times people will want to talk or ask me for help. It could be asking me to take a lid off something, or to have a longer conversation – there are so many ways we can care for somebody.
“Occasionally I might know some of the people on the ward, and it's good to catch-up, although it's not so good to see them in hospital. I tell them I will pray for them to get better.”
Fay is thankful to be able to give of her time and says, “I think it is good for me at my age to keep going, to be active as long as I can.”
Fay is well-known in the Manning Valley, having lived and worked in the area all of her life.
I get a lot of pleasure and joy from meeting people, being able to help somebody, and just being pleasant and kind down in the kiosk, I really do get a lot of satisfaction out of it.Fay Erickson
“I grew up on a farm in Mondrook and lived there for all of my school years.”
A student of Mondrook Public School and Taree High School, she laughs as she shares how she got to high school each day.
“I got to school in a row boat down the creek, across the river, through the bush, to my grandfather's place where I then changed my boots into shoes and then into Taree High School!”
After finishing school, Fay’s life story includes attending TAFE, working at solicitors Butterworth and Cowan, Chatham High School, marriage to Ron Erickson and caring for three children, Phillip, David and Jenny.
Fay is thankful she is able to contribute to the work of the Manning Hospital Pink Ladies Volunteer Auxiliary with proceeds of kiosk sales going towards the purchase of equipment and supplies for patients and staff in the hospital.
“It makes a difference. It is a lovely place to work and I look forward to continuing for many years to come.”
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