When Aucklander Jill Hutchison replied to a magazine ad calling for RMHC New Zealand volunteers 20 years ago, she never imagined she would become one of the organisation’s longest serving helpers. Jill is a true House Hero who over the years has helped in so many ways.
Jill was inspired to volunteer when she read about the support RMHC New Zealand gives families with children in hospital.
When Jill started volunteering she never thought a time would come that her own family would need its support services. “My granddaughter got an infection and she was in ICU. My daughter actually stayed at the Family Room, so the cause has become even closer to my heart.”
In her first role, she kept the kitchen and rooms sparkling clean. One day after finishing her tasks, she noticed the gardens needed some tlc. “It was a nice day, so I asked a staff member if I could work in the gardens. They said ‘yes that would be good’, and I’ve been there ever since!”
That was 10 years ago, and every Monday since, without fail, Jill has been weeding, trimming, planting and watering the gardens. She now leads a team of four volunteers who all jokingly call her ‘boss’. “Every week I can’t wait to get here, because we’ve got a really good team who help me. And we all have fun too,” says Jill.
The team arrives bright and early every week – before the sun is up in winter. They start on the Domain House gardens, before popping over to the Grafton Mews House.
At about 10am they finish and go for a coffee. “We always go to the same café. They’re so lovely and they spoil us. They always bring out a tray of free piping hot shortbread for us. We look around and nobody else gets it - I think it’s because of our volunteer t-shirts!”
Apart from gardening, Jill also loves crafts and runs cardmaking classes for the children at the RMHC New Zealand school. She says interacting with the children and seeing how much they enjoy being creative is a big highlight for her.
Jill’s family love helping too. Every year her daughter and grandchildren help sort the donated Christmas presents for families.
When asked why she has volunteered with RMHC New Zealand all these years, Jill says “everyone – the staff, volunteers and families - are so nice here and I’ve made so many friends. It’s really family orientated, I just get so much out of it and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to come.”
Jill has truly become a member of our RMHC New Zealand family. Staff and the many families she has met, are so grateful to have her incredible support.
*Jill is second from the left in the photo