Daphne Hazell has spent most of her life surrounded by books and, at 91, has just set up her ninth library. Daphne drew on her many years as a librarian, including 27 years at Sacred Heart College, to establish the library at ACH Group ViTA, Daw Park. Many of the 1000+ books and a book trolley have been re-homed from the Repatriation General Hospital library, where Daphne volunteered for 15 years.
The ViTA library was made possible thanks to a $1200 grant from the ACH Group Foundation for Older Australians, allowing a room to be set up with shelving, a children’s corner and cataloguing materials.
Residents, staff and family members at ViTA have donated hundreds of books, catalogued by Daphne and her team of volunteers using a system of colour coding and subject, title and author cards. “We’re using a simple system – we’re not doing decimal points – and we have a sign-in book here, so that if someone wants to come and borrow they can do that at any time.”
Residents, staff and family are welcome to browse and borrow, and three days a week volunteers ‘do the rounds’, visiting residents in their rooms with magazines, books and DVDs.
A fan of non-fiction, Daphne says reading is a wonderful way to spend your time. “There are a lot of places I would have loved to go, but I’ve never felt gypped because I can read a book and it takes me there.”
Daphne says she has always enjoyed working as a volunteer. She first volunteered at the age of 16 as a Sunday school kindergarten teacher because senior teachers were being sent to the War.
She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to the Clovelly Park community in 2012 for her many years’ contribution to school, sports clubs, libraries and the Salvation Army.
“You’re never too old to get enjoyment from volunteering,” she says. “It means you have companionship and it makes you feel better in yourself, too. Volunteering has helped me to live, not just exist.”
ACH Group has 350 volunteers who contributed 72,000 hours to the organisation in the last 12 months.