How a newspaper ad in the 80’s changed Patricia King’s life forever

Volunteer Pat King stands in front of a bookshelf wearing a blue t-shirt with Monash Children's Hospital embroidered on the chest.

Sometimes the smallest action can have the most profound impact on our lives – and for Patricia King, all it took was a small ad in the local paper. 

“It was 1988, and I saw this ad that Monash Medical Centre needed volunteers,” she said. 

“It was one year after they’d opened, and I’ve always been a helpful person who always put their hand up to help.” 

That small ad sparked a 35-year-long volunteering position across our health service – with Patricia only retiring at 84-years-old a few short months ago. 

“In the first six months I was the jack of all trades, and the gift shop then was just a tiny little thing run by volunteers,” she said. 

“I did a lot of collating, running errands, and then after six months I got the opportunity to work in the transit lounge, and I said I’d give it a go.” 

Patricia helped proof-read and do miscellaneous tasks there for about 17 years before she got another opportunity to volunteer on the children’s ward on the fourth floor. 

“I would take the trolley around and introduce myself to the parents and ask if they needed anything, like me to watch their child while they went and had a shower or went to a doctor’s appointment,” she said. 

“Sometimes I’d put them in a pusher and take them for a walk or to the Starlight room, or I’d play games with them or tell stories.”

Volunteer Pat King rolls Play-Doh with a young girl at a table.

Volunteer Patricia King was volunteering on the children’s ward at Monash Medical Centre before Monash Children’s Hospital existed.

One of her favourite responsibilities was being tasked with making bulk portions of Play-Doh for the art therapists to use with the children in the activity room. 

Patricia became so good at making Play-Doh, she was nicknamed ‘the Play-Doh lady’ and had to teach the other volunteers her secret trick before she retired. 

“I think I’ve got volunteer stamped on my head, I just love it,” she said. 

“I used to volunteer at my children’s schools in their canteens and helping to teach children struggling to learn how to read.” 

With today being International Volunteer Day, we want to recognise the profound positive impact people like Patricia, and all our volunteers, have on our health service. 

We’d like to thank our volunteers today, and every day, for the important role they play providing support and care to our patients, visitors, and employees. 

For Patricia, her favourite part about volunteering has always been the chance to meet lots of different people. 

“It became a social thing really, I just love meeting people and being helpful,” she said. 

“It was also really special when you got to know some of the longer-term patients and their families, and being able to watch them go home and be told they were so grateful for my help.”