Dynamic duo volunteer at St. Peter’s Hospital
Marie and Murray Neath are welcomed fixtures at St. Peter’s Hospital. When they aren’t watching T.V., playing computer games, crocheting, or visiting with their 11 grandchildren, they’re volunteering their time with our patients.
Three days a week, you can find Marie, 73, and Murray, 78, interacting with patients, visitors, and staff, from leading the weekly bingo program on the Behavioural Health Unit to working in the gift shop or assisting at staff barbecues and community outings.
Marie started volunteering in 1998 in the coffee shop at Chedoke Hospital where she also worked at one time. After she retired, she started volunteering at St. Peter’s Hospital and has been there for 7 years. “Everyone knows us,” she says.
With over 8,000 volunteer hours, 15 awards over her 20 year tenure, and 14 different placements during her time at St. Peter’s Hospital, it’s easy to believe.
After his retirement, she got her husband Murray – who she met 47 years ago at a dance in Hamilton – onboard too. “It gets me out of the house, away from video games and T.V. It gives me exercise. It helps me as much as it helps the people. It’s a good feeling,” says Murray.
Marie volunteers with the hairdressing service and gift shop. Murray is in charge of delivering books and magazines throughout the hospital to those looking for reading material. He also pins notices on the notice boards. Both of them participate in the weekly bowling and bingo activities.
After bowling, there is one patient they like to take to the coffee shop on a regular basis. “I have a cup of tea and we sit there and talk. We look out the window. It gets her out of her room for a while. She enjoys coming down and visiting with us,” says Marie.
They also accompany staff and patients on day trips. Farmers’ markets, shopping, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Hutch’s on the Beach are just some of the outings. They recently went with the Behavioural Health team and a small group of patients to Hutch’s. “We walk by the beach. They get their fish and chips and their ice cream. They have a nice day,” says Marie.
After so much time volunteering, you get to know a lot of the patients. One of them has since passed, but the dolphin puzzle she made and framed for Marie and Murray is on display in their home. You even get to reconnect with old friends. Murray now sees a friend from his old truck driving career who comes to visit his partner.
From hospital-wide programming to friendly visits with patients, many patients and staff can speak to the dedication and commitment of this duo. They ensure an awesome experience for each patient, each and every visit. “To me, it’s a win-win situation. We help the patients and they help us. They get us moving,” says Murray.