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First biography completed – ‘Beyond Words’ Volunteer Biography Program, Hepburn Health Service





(Seated) Ken Smith holding his finished biography
(Standing L-R) Kevin (Ken’s son), Debbie Rauber (Volunteer Biographer), J Cawton (Volunteer Services Manager)

Dream come true

Establishing a Volunteer Biography Program had long been a dream for J Cawton, Volunteer Services Manager at Hepburn Health Service. In August 2018, J received a scholarship from Palliative Care Victoria to attend training with Eastern Palliative Care to set up a Volunteer Biography Program.

First steps

After several months of work preparing Biographer Handbooks, training notes and forms, the Hepburn Health’ Beyond Words’ Volunteer Biography Program was born. Earlier in 2019 the first four volunteers attended training at Hepburn Health for the new Beyond Words Biography Program.

Gene Hadfield, ‘Beyond Words’ Volunteer Biographer commenced biography work with a Creswick Nursing Home resident who sadly passed away before his Biography had been completed.

Debbie Rauber, another new biographer, was already volunteering in Lumeah Lodge in Daylesford and was interested to help residents capture life stories for their biographies. She asked resident Ken Smith if he’d be her ‘guinea pig’. Of course Ken, ever the volunteer, said, “Yes. But mine’s just an ordinary life.” And so Ken’s biography was born. He shared his stories about his lifelong love for his dear Pat, who he was married to for 58 years. Ken showed so much pride in his boys, Peter and Kevin, and much love for his grandchildren.

'Just an Ordinary Life'

By the end of 2019, after several months of visits with Ken, recording, transcribing and editing, Debbie presented the first completed ‘Beyond Words’ Program Biography entitled ‘Just an Ordinary Life’ to Ken. Ken’s son Kevin helped throughout the process finding photos and checking dates and other details. The biography presentation was a special moment for Ken and Kevin, Debbie and J.

Congratulations to J for developing and implementing the ‘Beyond Words’ Biography Program and to Debbie for completing the first biography. Well done!

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