The Inspiring Story of a Residential Aged-Care Volunteer

Meath Care Residential Volunteer – Jo Hartzell.

Jo Hartzell was raised in the Perth suburb of Nedlands, on Stirling Highway, opposite the iconic Rose Gardens.

She was one of five girls and attended MLC College for girls, which was just down the road in Claremont.

Pony riding was Jo’s childhood passions and many happy years were spent both in the stables and on horseback.

Jo studied French at the University of Western Australia. After graduating in 1966, she moved to Kings Lynn in the UK on a Commonwealth Teacher’s Exchange programme.

During that time, an opportunity came up to travel to Italy with a friend.

Whilst dining in a restaurant in Florence, they encountered a table of loud tourists – one of them being an American tourist called Richard. Richard approached their table and asked to join them.

This chance meeting was the beginning of a great friendship and after Jo returned to Australia, Richard travelled over to visit.

Jo enjoyed her time working in the UK,  so she made the decision to move to the US to continue working as a teacher.

Richard, also a teacher in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania managed to secure her a job in his school.

A visa mix-up meant Jo wasn’t eligible to work in the US, so Richard proposed and the couple were quickly married.

They later moved back to Australia where Jo worked for many years as a French teacher at Newman College.

Jo and Richard have been married for 52 years. They have a son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren living in Albany.

Jo first started volunteering at Meath Care in Trigg – a small aged-care facility close to her home.  Having lost her mother to dementia at the age of 77, she wanted to help those in residential care.

The Trigg facility closed in 2009 and was replaced by the state of the art, Dr Mary Surveyor Centre in Kingsley, where Jo continues to volunteer.

Jo helps with bingo sessions for the residents, arriving 30 minutes early, she sets up the cards and markers and collects some chocolates from reception.

All participants receive chocolate. Jo helps those hard of hearing to ensure they don’t mark the incorrect number and hands out the chocolates.

Why does Jo volunteer?

“I just like to meet different people and be helpful.  I’ve had a wonderful life, I’ve been very lucky, so I like to help those who need it”.

She also explained, “The residents are so grateful for the help it’s great to get them out of their rooms laughing and having fun”.

Jo has also spent 10 years volunteering at Riding for the Disabled, an organisation dedicated to enriching the lives of the disabled children and adults.  Osteoporosis prevents her from riding ponies, but she still helps out at regular events.

Outside her volunteering duties Jo enjoys daily walks, travel and visiting her family.

Meath Care (inc) would like to thank Jo for her wonderful contribution to our organisation. She is a very special lady and brings our residents great joy.