Manju Shelke: Excellence in Volunteer Management

Manju Shelke has won South Australia’s Excellence in Volunteer Management Award.

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Walking along the serpentine corridors of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Manju Shelke knew she was lost. As she stood looking around, an older woman asked her if she could help.

“I don’t think you could,” Manju remembers saying. But the other woman insisted and helped her get to her specialist appointment.

When Manju came out of her appointment, the woman was waiting and assisted her out of the hospital too.

This was about 10 years ago and Manju’s first encounter with a hospital volunteer. A couple of years later she saw a job advertisement for Office Manager at the Lyell McEwin Hospital Volunteer Association and applied out of curiosity. And thus began Manju’s association with the Volunteer Association where she is now Director.

Manju Shelke
Manju Shelke speaking at the awards ceremony (Source: Facebook)

Last month Manju Shelke received South Australia’s Excellence in Volunteer Management Award.

This is the State’s highest volunteer management award recognising a volunteer manager for their outstanding contribution to the profession. It is presented to a Volunteer Manager who has demonstrated dedication to good practice in volunteer management, the delivery of volunteer programs and quality volunteer experiences.

Manju Shelke, as Director at Northern Healthcare Volunteer Association, manages over 250 volunteers and the volunteer operations at Lyell McEwin and Modbury Hospitals, Northgate and James Nash House.

Manju Shelke reviews the programs and identifies opportunities where volunteers can best support the needs of the health system and be most helpful in a patient’s recovery.

The Association was also recently part of an independent audit which measured the organisation against three sets of international volunteer management standards and were found to be in the top 2.5% of volunteer agencies internationally!

Manju Shelke’s personal story and journey to Adelaide are both fascinating. She started her career in India at the Taj Group of Hotels as a Sales manager after completing her MBA. She then moved to Dubai with her husband and three-year-old daughter. Knowing that a job in the hotel industry would mean long and late hours, she re-trained as a journalist in the UAE. The family next moved to New Zealand where she continued her career in journalism.

Manju moved to Australia to be with her daughter who was pursuing her medical studies in Adelaide. Here life dealt a big blow in the form of throat cancer. Manju lost her voice for 8 months and went through extensive treatment and rehab to be able to speak again.

But this, as we have seen, in a strange way, led to her current job.

She is passionate about the work the volunteers do.

“Volunteers provide a level of care that specialists cannot especially in the areas of social support, palliative services, rehabilitation services etc,” she told Indian Link.

One of the services she is particularly proud of is the “Biography Service” where a volunteer speaks to a palliative care patient’s relatives and friends and writes their story. This is beautifully produced in a booklet and given to the patient or their relatives.

Manju Shelke
Manju Shelke with the other award recipients (Source: Facebook)

She also revived the “Comfort Care” program where volunteers can cuddle, read, sing or just sit with infants or children to provide support and care.

There are several other programs both within the hospitals and outside that volunteers contribute their time to.

Manju said of her award, “I am truly humbled and honoured by the recognition. I am inspired every day by the dedication of our compassionate volunteer team.”

Looking to the future, she would like more people from multicultural backgrounds to go into hospitals as volunteers. “I feel we have a lot to give (in this area), and can make a huge difference.”

READ MORE: Abbas Alvi: Volunteering his way into hearts

Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai is a counsellor by profession with interests in writing, radio, emcee'ing, organising and attending events.

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