North Beach couple still volunteer in Wembley after 54 years

Bill and Dot Harris, of North Beach, at MercyCare Early Learning Centre in Wembley.
Bill and Dot Harris, of North Beach, at MercyCare Early Learning Centre in Wembley.

NORTH Beach couple Bill (89) and Dot (85) Harris have more than 100 years of volunteer service between them.

The passionate philanthropists started volunteering at St Joseph’s Orphanage in Wembley in 1964 and continue to help at the Barrett Street facility, which is now MercyCare Wembley.

Their involvement started with Mr Harris working on the orphanage’s boiler in the laundry and the couple then decided to use their milk truck to pick up food donations for the children.

“We used to go to Fremantle, down to Mills and Wares and get the biscuits, the ones that were a bit overcooked or something like that, then we’d drive down to South Fremantle to the Potatoes Board and they used to give us potatoes,” he said.

Mrs Harris joined in sewing sessions with some of the Sisters of Mercy to make items to sell, which she was part of for 20 years.

They have helped in a variety of ways over the past 54 years, including driving a bus, serving on the board, supporting the annual Christmas raffle and Mr Harris even dressed as Santa for many Christmas parties.

The pair volunteered for many years at the residential aged care facility and now spend much of their time helping at the early learning centre despite moving to North Beach.

“That’s our Thursday, nobody ever asks us to do anything on a Thursday because they know we’re not available,” Mrs Harris said.

“Bill likes pottering around up there, all the leaves blow around in the playground and the kids throw sand everywhere and the kids all like him and like to watch him sweeping and raking.

“He’ll mend their toys and anything else that the staff need him to do and there’s always some little one who’s not a having a good day up there, so I take charge of that one, it’s just nice.”

They believe their good health had allowed them to volunteer for so long and Mr Harris said they were grateful for the many relationships they had built.

“We’d been taught – you don’t think only of yourself,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot out of it, people we’ve met along the way are fantastic, it’s been a great trip, it’s been really, really good.”