Totara Hospice youth ambassadors win Minister of Health volunteer award
Totara Hospice's youth ambassadors have been recognised for all their work.
For the first time the team has received the Youth Health Team Volunteer Award as part of the Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.
The group is aged between 11 and 19 and its members are dedicated to helping those with life-limiting illness in the South Auckland region.
Senior youth ambassador Amy Dench says she is proud of the award.
"Winning the award is something that acknowledges not only the work we do but the passion we have for continuing to make hospice happen.
"Being a youth ambassador is a role that each of us is extremely proud of and we take on as an opportunity to be socially responsible members of our local community.
"Winning this award confirms that what we are doing in our community is special." .
The national awards programme celebrates and recognises the invaluable contributions of volunteers to the health and disability sector in New Zealand.
Many of the young ambassadors have experienced the grief of losing loved ones and find volunteering at the hospice is a way of giving back.
"Throughout my time as a youth ambassador, I have been exposed to the truth of the diversity of the lives hospice touches," Dench says.
"I pride myself on now being able to correct preconceived ideas about hospice work and present hospice in a manner that is not burdened by a fear of death but one that celebrates life and dying as a normal process."
The 22 students nominated for the award have been with the programme, which began in 2013, for two years or more.
The youth ambassadors dedicate more than 1600 hours of time collectively to Totara Hospice each year.
Alongside the youth ambassadors, South Aucklander Sue Sutton won the Long Service Volunteer Award.
Sutton has worked as a volunteer leader for La Leche League in the South Auckland and Franklin areas for almost 45 years.
And the Counties Manukau Health Rainbow volunteers were joint winners of the Healthcare Provider Service Team Volunteers award. They engage in a variety of tasks to help patients at Middlemore Hospital and make their stay more comfortable.
* Go to volunteerawards.health.govt.nz for a full list of the 2016 winners.