News & Events

Bringing Joy to people

April 19, 2017

There’s a hospital next door to the Braeside Park village in Berwick and it’s where Joy Johanning got a new lease of life. It wasn’t the life saving experience that most people expect at a hospital. For Joy, a Braeside Park resident, it was starting there as a volunteer two and a half years ago that has given her life meaning again.


“Never in my life would I have thought of volunteering at a hospital. But volunteering there really has saved my life. In the beginning it gave me a reason to get out of bed and then after a while the staff there and the people who walk through the door each day made me want to go,” Joy said.


Joy is the meet and greet lady at least two days a week at St John of God Hospital in Berwick. On her rostered days she gets up at about 4.30am, dons her green uniform and is over at the hospital by 6.30-7am ready for the people to arrive. She greets them with warmth and compassion and takes them where they need to go.


Joy came to Braeside Park five years ago still trying to recover from her husband’s death. She was also recovering from treatment for breast cancer and then soon after that one of her daughters, Michelle, died suddenly in her sleep. Joy found it difficult to face each day.


“I loved coming to Braeside Park. The people are so lovely, my unit is beautiful and the gardens give me a lot of pleasure. But the staff here are something else. They are so kind to us,” Joy said. “And I know because I have experienced their kindness first hand, when I was first trying to settle in and then especially when my daughter died.”


Joy was visiting another Braeside park resident at the hospital when she picked up some forms about volunteering on her way out.


“I really needed something in my life and I found it at the hospital. People come in each morning and I show them to the room they need to go to and sometimes I sit and chat to help them relax,” she said.


“I treat my volunteering like it is a job I get paid for. I get up early enough to do my exercises to manage my lymphodema and then I do my make-up. I want to look my best to greet the people who come through the door.”


“I really am blessed to be here at Braeside Park and working at the hospital. Years ago I used to love nice things and I had the best of things. Now, none of that means anything to me. Love is all that matters, it really is.”


Joy admits she began volunteering for herself, but over time she has come to feel differently about the work. She is committed to the hospital and proud of what she can contribute. The people at St John of God are just as proud of Joy. She was recently asked to appear in an orientation video for new staff and was invited to the Boardroom a couple of weeks ago to meet hospital auditors who were impressed with her early morning work.


Gillian Coyle, Volunteer Coordinator at St John of God Hospital, said Joy was a valued member of the hospital community.  “We often say at the hospital that Joy was named perfectly as she is a true joy to behold! Joy lights up a room with her smile and warmth and makes our patients feel relaxed and reassured. Joy treats everyone with care and compassion and this was specifically acknowledges by the surveyors who recently audited the hospital for our re-accreditation. I often joke with her that she is my ‘go-to girl’ when I need help as she is so dedicated, passionate and willing to help the hospital and our caregivers in any way she can,” Gillian said.

Thanks to St John of God Hospital for the image of Joy used in this story.



"I love the fact that Rushall Park residents and volunteers are so active – contributing to life in the village. The sense of the community is strong which is why I put my name on the waiting list" - Maggie Birkett.

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