Happy to be helping

Colleen Burgess has been a friendly and familiar face around the northern suburbs for nearly 30 years.
Colleen Burgess has been a friendly and familiar face around the northern suburbs for nearly 30 years.

The Australian Red Cross liaison officer for the Sorrento-Duncraig Unit launched a weekly companionship group at the Greenwood Scout and Guide Hall to meet a need she uncovered while selling raffle tickets.

Mrs Burgess has volunteered in many capacities throughout her years with the organisation, providing library services, meals for struggling families and transport to medical appointments.

Also, fundraising for the Red Cross March Appeal, where she and her family �shake tins� at the Warwick Train Station and a local Bunnings store.

�There�s always so much going on,� Mrs Burgess said.

�I first got involved in 1950 as a kid with the Junior Red Cross up in Boulder in the Goldfields. I was with them until I left school and got married.

�I answered a call for volunteer drivers for places like Alinjarra and Alexander Heights that didn�t have transport or anything. They needed volunteers to pick people up for appointments at Hollywood, Charles Gairdner and Royal Perth. I joined up and I was happy as anything.�

She also volunteered at the former Wanneroo Hospital for 20 years, making lunches for nursing staff and visitors, and running a library service for patients.

�We used to take the trolley around morning and afternoon. We ran it like a real library; they wrote down what book they took but if they wanted to keep it when they were discharged, well, that was fine,� she said.

�On the Tuesday, we used to go up and do the patients� nails for those that wanted it. We also had that service going in about four nursing homes where we used to do the ladies� nails and give them a facial. We never asked for any fee, but we had a Red Cross tin if they wanted to donate 20c or something.�

Following a welfare course, she moved on to delivering meals to struggling families who called for help.

�I used to have to go out and buy enough food for say a young mother who was pregnant with her third child and had two other little bubs, so deliver this food for her tea,� she said.

She has helped with other Red Cross services including blood donations, first-aid courses, soup patrols and borrowing books for those who were housebound and often lonely.

�We may have been the only people they would see,� she said.

�They would be sitting there waiting with lovely cups of tea, cake and scones.�

Mrs Burgess continues to run the companionship group, where members do simple craft such as knitting and crocheting from 10.30am to 2pm each Tuesday.

�This little thing that I had going, it just boosted their confidence,� she said.

�That keeps me going, that�s wonderful. It�s going to hurt when I have to give it away.�

For more about the unit or companionship group, call 9342 2806 and to donate, visit redcross.org.au.