Irene has been a volunteer with Belconnen Community Service (BCS) for over ten years. Every week she assists with two social support groups for older community members: BEST Club (Belconnen Energetic Seniors on a Tuesday) and Positive Links, a group for people who have survived a stroke or other life-changing experience. Volunteering isn’t the first role that Irene has had with BCS, in fact she was one of the first ever BCS employees back in 1975, when, as a new mum, living in Melba, she became a Family Day Care worker.
Back then, Melba had no footpaths, buses or shops and Irene pushed her pram long distances every day. During her 12 years as a Family Day Care worker, Irene watched Belconnen and the children she cared for grow and mature. When her own son entered high school, Irene began a new career in the Commonwealth Public Service. That career lasted 25 years and when she retired, Irene who describes herself as being, “not one to do nothing,” returned to BCS as a volunteer.
Irene began her volunteering as one of BCS’s “friendly visitors”. As a visitor, she would have regular contact with people who might otherwise have been isolated. She would take them shopping or do other activities that they enjoyed. Irene recalls one woman who she visited weekly for eight years. The woman eventually needed nursing home care. By that time she and Irene had become firm friends and Irene continued to visit her in the nursing home.
Now, as a volunteer with BEST Club and Positive Links, Irene accompanies the groups on excursions and assists when they meet at their regular venues of Belconnen Community Centre and West Belconnen Leagues Club. She’s a keen photographer and documents lots of the groups’ activities. Sometimes Irene prints her photos for the group. Some group members have whole albums of her photos at home. The last few months have been very active with both groups visiting Floriade and Cockington Green as well as having guest speakers and shared lunches. Attending one of the excursions in preparation for writing this story, it was clear that there is a lot of affection between Irene and the people she helps.
Irene still lives in the same house in Melba and is a dedicated, generous and kind Belconnen local.
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