Hospice is 'a happy place'
Some people think hospice is a "dark and depressing place where people go to die".
But 23-year-old Alex Powell has spent the last five years finding out it's actually focused on living and making the most out of right now.
Powell had her heart set on becoming a doctor from a young age and was in search of a place to volunteer and gain experience in the industry.
Hospice was the perfect fit and she's spent every second Sunday in the Hospice North Shore kitchen cooking, chatting to patients and doing odd jobs around the place.
"It's been really good for me to be in a medical place but to not be involved with a medical aspect."
She says hospice is an incredibly happy place and the work is rewarding.
"The people I meet are obviously going through something really tough but it puts things into perspective when they can be so positive and lovely."
Powell is now in the final six months of her medical studies and has travelled back to the North Shore to continue her volunteer work during her GP training in Whitianga.
The medical student's next placement takes her to Whanganui before final training at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London - distances too far to travel for the kitchen shift.
"The only reason I'm giving up is because I have to."
Powell says working at hospice made her realise she had chosen the right career path.
"I didn't realise how much I would enjoy working with people. When I started at hospice there weren't a lot of young volunteers but there are now.
"It's quite a privilege to get to know patients when they are going through such a tough time and realising that actually the little things can make a huge difference."
Hospice North Shore is a registered charity that helps hundreds of people in the community each year by providing pallative care to those affected by life-limiting illness.
It celebrated its 30 year anniversary in 2013
Last year there were 765 volunteers who ranged in age from 16-93 years and collectively contributed 75,000 hours.
Email info@hospicenorthshore .org.nz or phone 486 1688 to find out how you too can volunteer.
North Shore Times