Upper Mt Gravatt Volunteer Denise Lewis Celebrates 25-Year Milestone at Mater

Upper Mt Gravatt Denise Lewis Mater Volunteer
Photo Credit: Renae Drop/Supplied

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, Denise Lewis, a 75-year-old grandmother and bowel cancer survivor from Upper Mt Gravatt, marks 25 years of volunteering and over 6,500 hours of service at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane.

Denise has become an emblem of resilience and dedication at Mater Private Hospital. As one of the longest-serving volunteers among the 450-member team, she has spent a quarter-century providing comfort and assistance to countless patients. 

Diagnosed with bowel cancer just a year into her volunteering, Denise’s personal battle with the disease only strengthened her commitment to helping others.

“I was working in the oncology ward at Mater when I first began volunteering in 1999, so it was quite ironic to have been diagnosed soon after becoming a volunteer,” Denise recalled. After six months of rigorous chemotherapy, she embraced the role of a cuddle carer at the former Mater Children’s Hospital. 

“Doctors told me I came close to not being here,” she said, reflecting on her close call with cancer’s spread to her lymph nodes.

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More Than Just a Volunteer

Denise’s volunteering extends beyond her initial roles. After 13 years with pet therapy programs, she now serves as a ward assistant. This position allows her to engage directly with patients and staff, offering practical support and a friendly face during difficult times. 

Upper Mt Gravatt Denise Lewis Mater Volunteer
Photo Credit: Renae Droop/RDW Photography/Supplied

“What I enjoy about the many volunteering roles I’ve had at Mater is being able to help in any small way,” Denise expressed.

Her dedication is visible through her actions and the collection of service badges adorning her Mater lanyard, each representing years of commitment and countless stories of kindness. “Many people comment on my badges, mostly when I am in lifts or escorting patients upon discharge. It creates a conversation and inspires others to think about volunteering,” she shared.

Life Beyond the Hospital

Living in Upper Mt Gravatt, Denise balances her volunteer work with an active lifestyle that includes playing tennis, coordinating a walking group, and spending cherished time with her family. 

“I actually don’t have a lot of spare time, even at my age,” she laughed. Her enthusiasm for volunteering reflects a deep-seated joy in helping others, “I absolutely love volunteering and helping others, it gives me great satisfaction.”

Denise’s enduring service has made her a treasured member of the Mater community. 

Upper Mt Gravatt Denise Lewis Mater Volunteer
Photo Credit: Renae Droop/RDW Photography/Supplied

“When you volunteer for 25 years you can build meaningful relationships with staff and earn their trust,” said Judy Johnson, Senior Manager of Mater Volunteers. 

Denise’s experience is invaluable, not only in her day-to-day duties but also in training and mentoring new volunteers. 

“There is not much about Mater that Denise doesn’t know,” Ms Johnson added.

Contact details for those interested in volunteering at Mater are available via phone at 3163 8599, email at volunteers@mater.org.au, or by visiting the Mater website at www.mater.org.au/group/careers/volunteering.

Published 21-May-2024