On February 17, Bloomhill’s 25 newest staff and volunteers were welcomed onsite, all now a part of the team that delivers essential services to clients with cancer.  The first of four sessions scheduled for 2020.

CEO Chris Frank opens and lets the numbers tell the story… 22 nursing and health professionals, 49 professional and admin staff, 450 volunteers. A not so small organisation in just 23 years of operation.  

Chris goes on to explain that 11 Bloomhill Op Shops provide the financial “heartbeat” of the organisation, providing 75% of funding, but is Bloomhill’s Mission to enhance lives of people living with cancer that unites staff, volunteers and supporters alike.  

Over the following two hours, department heads share how each team supports the other to transform lives within our community by helping people to Get Help, Volunteer and Give Back.  

Trish Wilson, Clinical Services Manager, said the team looks after 1200 clients, 800 of these with cancer, and also carers and children, the bereaved. She recalls how clients see Bloomhill as a “sanctuary”, a “place of belonging and ownership”.  

A Cancer Council statistic… 1 in every 2.1 people will have a cancer diagnosis by the time they are 80.  

“Where twenty-two years ago most of our work was palliative care, today much of it is survivorship care.” Tirsh and her team of health professionals aim to “empower their clients to seek out what helps them” and stresses the importance of emotional care.  

Clients are often with Bloomhill for 3-4 years, after which time they graduate. The  ultimate goal is to help as many people live well with the ongoing impacts of cancer and feel healthy and confident to self-manage their future from the comfort of home. Some will access our sensitive palliative support.  

“Bubbly Bec” Rebecca Moran received her blood cancer diagnosis days before her 35th birthday, and candidly shares her story with those in the room.  She notes she was one of the lucky ones and her cancer was “treatable” and says through Bloomhill she could see “a light at the end of the tunnel”. 

“The way Bloomhill operates benefitted me and my friends in different ways. They hold your hand.” She calls Kirsty, her nurse, “invaluable” and tells those staff and volunteers in the room to recognise “you are a part of something really big”. 

Next up is Sarah Wetton, Director of Advancement, who with her team is planning for the future. They work on philanthropy, fundraising and partnerships and engage with the community through building strong relationships, fantastic supporter experiences and transparent communications on the real-life impact of community giving.  

Bloomhill is coming into the 21st century with digital platforms such as Facebook page, LinkedIn and our new look website. However, Sarah is quick to mention that “While these are fantastic tools to help raise awareness of what we do and welcome people to join our cause – the day to day ethos we work by remains having great relationships built on trust, community pride, and a shared vision to transform lives” 

Twenty-twenty will see a streamlined signature events calendar rolled out, which offers something for everyone to get involved with. This includes the popular Bloomhill Race Day, Charity Auction and Bras on Bikes fundraisers.    

Op Shops are next on the agenda and Chris tells his audience they are not just about money. “We find people hover – they want to connect with others as part of their shopping experience. Our shop managers recognise this and take time to engage with them, in case they may need support.” 

The Op Shops also play an important role within our local environment, by redirecting unwanted goods from landfill – enabling them to have a new lease on life ether in a recycled, upcycled or affordable alternative for those looking for a great buy or those who may be facing hard times.  

He tells the room full of volunteers he wants the op shops to be a fun place for shoppers to visit. “Enjoy your time there, be the sunshine in someone else’s day.” 

Alexsandra Bert is the Community Services Manager. Her genuine gratitude towards volunteers and her desire to make them happy is obvious. She begins by thanking volunteers and says “it is imperative we get it right from the start, volunteering should be the highlight of your day. It is a two-way street, we have to meet both our needs and yours.” 

She shows charts documenting the hours volunteers put into different activities. The numbers are astounding. “Volunteers play a crucial role in expanding the reach and impact of Bloomhill’s services, providing nearly $2.3 million in donated skills and time. Without you we could not do what we do so well.” 

Ruth Wise, a Bloomhill volunteer of seven years talks about the amazing stories she has heard from clients as a driver and in buddy support. “I have always felt my input was valued and appreciated. Bloomhill helped me develop as a person.” 

It’s time for HR and Quality control, and as Kara Huggins is sick so Chris again takes the floor and explains the clinical accreditation process Bloomhill is undertaking to align it with the top health services in the country.  There’s also a new electronic payroll system about to be launched.  

Glen Decker injects some humour into what might normally be a very important yet dry topic. He runs through Workplace Health and Safety stresses his aim for “zero harm” and reminds volunteers they have the same rights as paid staff.  

Chris ends the session reminding us we are all “ambassadors” for Bloomhill and to “have fun”. 

And with that, a happy group of volunteers chat as they help tidy up the room, sign out and head off with a greater appreciation of the value of their contribution and the contribution of Bloomhill within their community. 

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