Still giving back at 100 years old June 2019


Doreen Alexander is 100 years old and still volunteering at the Hospice shop in Whangarei. Photo: Michael Cunningham

You’re never too old to care and help others, and it’s something Whangarei woman Doreen Alexander knows well.

Aged 100, Doreen is still volunteering at the Hospice Shop in Whangarei and reckons it helps keep her young.

Besides, the sprightly centenarian jokes, if she wasn’t there to keep the rest of the people at the Hospice Shop in line chaos could ensue.

And that’s just what she does, as well as keeping every body happy, entertained and inspired, Hospice retail manager Kathy McMillan said.

“She’s just wonderful and has such a great sense of humour. The customers love her and we just love her being herself,” McMillan said.

“She’s great with the customers and she has her regulars who come in just to see her on Mondays. She’s also been a regular at the Growers Market on Saturday mornings — she’s such a great volunteer. Her contribution is immense and she’s such an inspiration.”

Doreen has been volunteering at the Hospice Shop since May 2001, but has been volunteering “ever since I gave up work”.

She started volunteering at Hospice after having a friend go through its palliative services and seeing the outstanding job the organisation does.

“I just wanted to give something back. I love coming here and it gives me something to do. It keeps me young,” Doreen said.

She was born in Whangarei, and has lived in the city all her life, and Doreen said the best part about volunteering is being able to give some thing back to her community.

She said she’s an example that you are never too old to do some thing for others and volunteering gives her a real sense of purpose and she’s sure others will get a lot out of giving up some of their own time to help people.

“One of my regular customers (who had made her a birthday cake previously) was going to make my 100th cake, but sadly she broke her wrist so couldn’t do it. That’s the appreciation you get.”

In these days when everybody seemed to be busy and rushing, Doreen said taking some time out to do some thing good would help people cope with their busy lives as volunteering gave so much pleasure to the volunteer and those they helped.

“I love it here. I just get such a nice feeling from helping out and knowing you’ve been able to make a contribution.”

Doreen turned 100 on Thursday and there will be two celebrations for her today at the Badminton Hall, in Whangarei and then Hospice will have its own celebration with her on Monday while the Whangarei Labour Party, of which Doreen is a life member, will hold a birthday bash for her on Thursday.

That’s a lot of birthday wishes, but Doreen’s looking forward to receiving them all.

Story by Mike Dinsdale (The Northern Advocate)