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Age doesn't matter: Volunteer at gift shop keeps working

Esther Betterley

Every Friday morning, Esther Betterley heads to her volunteer job at the Westfields Hospital gift shop.

At 94 years of age, Betterley is the eldest of about 25 dedicated volunteers who work at the shop. Profits made from the sale of gifts, snacks and more go to support patient care.

"She is quite humble and modest, but a great inspiration to us all," said Laurie Harvieux, community relations director.

Betterley was manning her post Aug. 7 during her regular 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. shift when she agreed to talk about her love for volunteer work.

Turns out she worked as a sales clerk at JC Penney in downtown New Richmond (located where Champs is now) for many years.

When she learned that the hospital was looking for gift shop volunteers, Betterley thought it was the perfect fit. She's been volunteering there for about 25 years.

"I enjoy working with people," she said. "And I enjoy talking with friends -- even old friends who I haven't seen for a long time."

She also likes straightening up the merchandise in the gift shop and working with the employees and other volunteers at the hospital.

"They are all nice to work with and they're all very cooperative," she said.

Betterley has lived in the New Richmond area since 1930. She and her husband, Harold "Ted" Betterley, lived on a dairy farm east of town and raised five children together.

For the past 14 years, Betterley has lived in an apartment in New Richmond. Her volunteer work is part of her regular routine.

"It's great," she said. "I like it very much. It's something to do in my retirement."

Betterley admits that the activity at the gift shop can vary greatly, but that's all part of working in the retail world.

"Some days are really busy," she said. "Others are really slack. It's the same as any other place."