This December will mark the end of an era when Bill and Dot Harris hang up their boots after more than a combined century of volunteering with MercyCare.
Having turned 90, Bill, and Dot who marks her 87th birthday this month, felt it was time to retire after a stellar innings helping others.
In recognition of their outstanding contribution, Bill and Dot will be attending Volunteering WA’s International Volunteer Day Garden Party at Government House on December 5.
“Volunteering is a lovely way of life and it’s always been a part of ours. You meet nice people and it’s really rewarding,” Dot said.
“MercyCare is like family. The staff feel like family to us,” she said.
Dot has been volunteering at MercyCare Wembley Early Learning Centre reading to the children and helping with various chores, while Bill has been a fixture around the Centre keeping the grounds tidy and mending any broken toys.
The Early Learning Centre marks the last of their many volunteering roles at the Wembley campus. Bill originally starting in 1964 when the Sisters of Mercy ran the site as an orphanage.
Bill began volunteering on the laundry boiler before his day job doing the milk-run in Wembley. The couple used their own milk truck to pickup food donations for the orphanage.
Over the years the couples volunteering has taken many forms. Dot sewed items with the Sisters to raise money and took notes at board meetings. Bill spent many years driving the bus for outings and drop-offs for the Sisters, early learning and aged care residents. He was always happy to don the big red suit come Christmas time.
MercyCare CEO Anthony Smith said volunteers like Bill and Dot played a critical role in the tapestry of MercyCare.
“Dedicated volunteers like Bill and Dot have always been an integral part of MercyCare. They have been essential to the running of the Early Learning Centre, and their contribution over so many years can’t be overstated,” Anthony said.
MercyCare currently has 190 volunteers contributing their time, skills, energy and enthusiasm across its Early Learning, Aged Care, Family and Community and Corporate services.
So after so many years as volunteers, will Bill and Dot miss it? “Oh yes,” said Dot. “MercyCare has been an important part of our lives and suddenly it won’t be there.”
In the future, the couple still plan to make the occasional visit, and when they are ready to move from their own home, plan to become resident’s at MercyCare Wembley Residential Aged Care Centre where they once volunteered.