WHEN Phonse Carmody paid a visit to a workmate at the Toowoomba Hospice, he had no idea he was about to enter a new phase in his life. Observing some somewhat "sad" looking roses outside the administration building, he happened to comment to the receptionist, "I could do something about those." Without missing a beat, she replied, "Why don't you?" and thus begun Phonse's days as volunteer gardener.
Phonse represents a crew of ever-willing volunteers that help out at the Toowoomba Hospice on a regular basis. Into his seventh year with the organisation, Warwick-born Phonse has variously mowed lawns, trimmed hedges, tended roses and changed the odd light bulb.
His obviously green thumb has given comfort and pleasure to family members of Hospice clients, and it is something that keeps him going.
"The comments and appreciation we get from clients and families is the thing I enjoy most about volunteering. Some families have a great couple of days together in the serene setting (of the Hospice garden) and we try to keep it green and colourful."
While Phonse tends to the external area of the Hospice, June Burke is the smiling face, ready to help, in the reception area. Like Phonse, June was born in Warwick and moved to Toowoomba to raise her five children. As time went on and her children got older, June had a bit more time on her hands and thought she would give volunteering a go.
"I chose the Toowoomba Hospice as I thought it was a very necessary facility, having had parents who needed extra care in their later years. I feel it is necessary to have a facility outside of hospital and the home to care for ill people."
June has been with the Hospice for ten years and sees it as an opportunity to keep active and do something outside of the house.
"I think seniors need to keep busy, using their minds and the many skills they have developed over their growing years. I find volunteering interesting and rewarding…I exercise my brain as well as help the community, meet different types of people and feel as if I am contributing."