This week (16 – 22 May) is National Volunteer Week, Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering.
We appreciate so many of our residents who volunteer their time with Link Wentworth in our Tenant Advisory Group (TAG) and other various committees, including the Resilience Committee, or by contributing content for our resident newsletter and other publications. Many of our residents also volunteer in their communities to improve the lives of others.
Link Wentworth resident, Lynne is a volunteering powerhouse from the Hawkesbury who not only is a member of our TAG, but also volunteers with Country Women’s Association (CWA) and Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands.
We had a great time chatting with Lynne, learning more about her community and her 10 years of volunteering with Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 75, I’ve been a widow for two years. I have three sons, four grandchildren and I have a great grandson due at the end of September.
I was a radiographer and when I got older I went back to university and did English Literature and Criminology. I like to study, knit and I read a lot. I enjoy historical literature and love Australian literature.
I’m in CWA on three levels, I’m Branch Secretary, Group President and I’m on the State Cultural Committee. Then I volunteer with Hawkesbury’s Helping hands. I don’t have a lot of home time.
Where do you live and what do you like most about your community?
I live in the Hawkesbury. I came from the Mid-north Coast to come here when I was 19 and met my husband Denis who is a ‘hundredth generation’ Hawkesbury person like they are.
I love the place where I live now. I was desperate when we moved in almost five years, I had a sick husband and a sick son, and I was broke.
When my husband became more disabled, friends and people he had known started to meet once a month for lunch with him and called it “Denny’s lunch group”. So, he had an outing where he was comfortable because Parkinson’s is uncomfortable for people when they go out.
The support I got when he died was unbelievable. Every morning I woke up and someone had left something on the veranda with a little note saying something like “Danny was good to me.” They remembered and did something about it. People care about other people in the Hawkesbury.
How long have you been volunteering with Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands?
10 years. It is a remarkable place to volunteer. Now, because I’m older I mainly do the computer work for them and help volunteers join up. I go in today, Wednesdays and sometimes I go in for the dinner service if someone is driving past as I can’t drive now.
Wednesday is hamper day where people can get food at very reduced rate or for free. I’m the ‘meet and greeter,’ I take the orders and all the fit, young people run around and fill them. We serve a lot of people between 12-3 pm. Any support they need is also available and Link Wentworth and Link2Home staff come in.
We have people who turn up out of the blue because they have nowhere else to go and after hours there’s nothing open. They get help with food, clothing, accommodation. The Hawkesbury is a very cold place especially for rough sleepers. We keep them warm and dry.
What was the impact of the recent floods on your community?
I wasn’t here for the last floods; I was up the coast with my son. But Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands worked the clock around. People were marooned over North Richmond Bridge and Wilberforce and Colo way, and they all needed supplies.
Linda works her magic and gets people to move stuff at all times on a daily basis. It was non-stop. People were given cleaning and personal care products as well as food and essentials because the houses need cleaning out.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a huge increase in people coming in. We had the bushfires, then the floods, then covid, then more floods, then more floods.
What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
To see the smiles on peoples’ faces after they have come in stressed, crying and then they leave so grateful. To see the relief when they receive support, knowing you may have stopped someone from going over the edge. Then they come back to say thank you or volunteer themselves.
Thank you, Lynne, for the work you do for Link Wentworth and the community!