An example of how a volunteer can make a meaningful difference in someone’s life and in their community

In 1995, Helderberg Hospice sent out a request, asking members of the community to complete a caregiving training course through them and to register as a volunteer, which would enable them to help care for patients living with life threatening diseases, in their own homes.

Lily Cupido and her friend Joan Abrahams received a leaflet from their church, St Joseph’s the Worker in Macassar, and signed up. Shortly thereafter, Lily started doing the home visits – attending to and caring for up to 10 patients per week. As Joan was still working full time as a teacher, she was only available part time to assist. Lily, never having learnt how to drive, was chauffeured to each patient’s home by her husband Arthur, who would wait patiently in the car until it was time to move on to the next patient. In 2005, Amina Rhoda, who was to later become a much valued and respected member of the Helderberg Hospice Board of Directors, joined the group.

Here we are, 22 years later, with 12 qualified, dedicated volunteers (including Lily, Joan and Amina) who support our medical home care sisters, carrying out vital home visits to our patients in the Macassar area.

In the meantime…

Arthur was getting tired of waiting in the car whilst Lily did her rounds, and decided to do the volunteer training as well. A true gentleman and an endearingly humorous character, Arthur soon became very popular, providing a steady, jovial but compassionate support for patients and volunteers.

In 2012, Lily, Joan and Amina saw their dream of a support group for their beloved Macassar patients come true, named “The Lilies” in recognition of the founder of the group, Lily Cupido. A priority was finding a venue for the group to meet, and Joan approached St Joseph’s the Worker in Macassar, the church where she and Lily had first seen the call for volunteers so many years ago. The Rector and his Church Council gave their blessing for the church hall to be used as a venue whenever we needed it, at no charge. Arthur stepped in to provide transport, and has now for 5 years (despite ill  health and undergoing his own chemotherapy) collected, transported and delivered patients and their families to meetings, hospital visits, and home again – always with an uplifting message or a funny story.

To say that these inspiring volunteers are greatly loved and valued, cannot begin to explain how blessed we are to call them part of our Helderberg Hospice family. They are pillars of strength in their communities, and the very heart of our care.

It’s about life, not death.

Lily is passionate about the work that Helderberg Hospice does. It is a gift and an honour to be able to provide quality of life, dignity in death, and comfort and support in bereavement. Home care makes it possible for patients to live their last days in the comfort and familiarity of their homes, surrounded by their loved ones. As Lily says, life is about living, not dying.