Twenty Blue Mountains residents were recognised at the annual Seniors Volunteer Awards held in Springwood on Monday, April 12.
Volunteers from services ranging from palliative support, Meals on Wheels to bushcare and neighbourhood centres were among those singled out at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub ceremony.
Organised by Blue Mountains City Council, deputy mayor Chris Van der Kley presented the recipients with their awards while Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle and Macquarie MP Susan Templeman both paid tribute to the seniors in speeches.
"The Seniors Volunteer Awards are an important celebration, giving us a chance to say a heartfelt thank you to these generous and charitable members of our community," said Ms Doyle
"It often seems we live in a world that's very much focused on our youthful years but I am pleased that an awards ceremony such as this one takes a moment to acknowledge and express our gratitude towards our senior citizens for their volunteering. I felt incredibly honoured to be a part of the congratulatory celebrations."
Susan Templeman said the awards are a "fitting recognition for the enormous contribution seniors are making in our community".
"All too often some people ignore the wisdom and experience of older people, yet our organisations that rely on volunteers wouldn't be viable without them.
"Congratulations to all the very worthy recipients," she said.
Recipients of the awards were:
- Stephen Fryer: Stephen has been volunteering for Blue Mountains Food Services for several years. Stephen supports us in the delivery of our Meals on Wheels service to older people and people with a disability in their homes, as well as serving at our Community Restaurants. Stephen had no hesitation in continuing to deliver meals to these vulnerable clients despite the risks involved in circulating in the community during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. His happy and bright personality really lifts the spirit of the entire Meals on Wheels team. He is unassuming, compassionate, adaptable and extremely accommodating. He is a real asset to our team, we are very lucky to have him.
- Terry Ryan: Terry is a very dedicated, compassionate volunteer with a wonderful sense of humour. He has been a Palliative Care volunteer for the Blue Mountains Palliative support service for 5 years. Terry has assisted patients in the Mountains to be at home. He has provided transport, social support, compassionate care and bereavement support to his clients. Terry has assisted at our 'Memorial Day ' program for the last 4 years and has also assisted in fundraising events for the service. Terry has also been recognised by Rotary in 2021 with the 'Paul Harris Fellow Award' as a Rotary Partner for the Lower Blue Mountains Rotary Club for 20 years of service. Terry is also President of the Association of Independent Retirees, Blue Mountains Branch, and has been a member for five years. Terry's warmth and positive personality makes him a true asset to our service.
- Jeff Mason: For over four years Jeff has been volunteering for Blue Mountains Food Services and delivering meals to older people and people with a disability. Jeff had no hesitation in continuing to deliver meals to these vulnerable clients despite the risks involved in circulating in the community during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is passionate about serving the local community, particularly our vulnerable. In everything he does, he puts the needs of others first and foremost.
- Kathy Ryan: Kathy is a very compassionate and dedicated volunteer. She has been a Palliative Care volunteer for the Blue Mountains Palliative support service for 5 years. Kathy has assisted patients in the Mountains to be at home and also supported clients at Blue Mountains Hospital. She has provided transport, social support and bereavement support to her clients. Kathy has assisted at our 'Memorial Day ' program for the last 4 years and has participated in fundraising events for the service. Kathy is passionate about end of life care - and she's also musically talented! Kathy recently trained to use the Revere Harp to play for clients in the hospital setting. She is looking forward to resuming her music therapy volunteering at Martyn Claver Nursing home where she will be attending monthly to play guitar and sing to the residents. Kathy is a woman who always puts others before herself.
- Ian Power: Ian is extremely hardworking and dedicated in caring for the local natural environment. He is very much a team player and has been a longstanding volunteer with the following Council and NPWS Bushcare/Landcare Groups: . Braeside Bushcare Group (NPWS). Prince Henry Cliff Walk Bushcare Group (NPWS) . Valley Of The Waters Bushcare Group (NPWS) . Brahma Kumaris Landcare Group (Council) . Woody Weed Wander Bushcare Group (Council) . Vale Street Bushcare Group (Council) . Marmion Swamp Bushcare Group (Council) . Valley View Swampcare Group (Council) . Gordon Falls Reserve Bushcare Group (Council) . NPWS and Council Bushcare/Swampcare Events Ian has also volunteered with the Secret Garden at Richmond for several years in caring for the gardens. This Garden welcomes people of all ages and abilities to work, learn, socialise, volunteer and enjoy! He also diligently works at the Brahma Kumaris gardens, which is a meditation retreat, providing a quiet refuge for contemplation for visitors/participants.
- Ivy Lorenz: Ivy is a compassionate and dedicated volunteer. She has been a supporter of the Blue Mountains Palliative Support service for 10 years. Over the years, Ivy has assisted patients in the Mountains to be at home and also supported clients at Blue Mountains Hospital. Ivy has assisted in all fundraising events for the service and is a terrific advocate for those who are vulnerable and isolated in the community. When she is not providing palliative care work, Ivy volunteers her time at the Uniting Church at Hazelbrook. Ivy has been a member of the Church for the past 3 years. In her service to the church she keeps an eye out for others, visiting those who are unwell in hospital, arranging for food hampers, supporting people to get medical assistance and liaising with family members. Ivy has also been a member of the Multicultural group for 10 years and assists to coordinate the monthly social lunches. In her so called spare time she is an active member of the Bowling Club at Lawson and Golf Croquet in Hazelbrook. She also attends the weekly 'Community Café' at Belong Lawson and over the last 6 years she has introduced many people who are new to the area to attend, making them feel welcomed to the Community space.
- Bob Moller: Bob has been volunteering with the Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre Monday Community Lunches for many years and is a great help with all tasks required. He will put his hand to anything, whether it be dish washing or serving, putting tables out and packing away. There is never a dull moment with Bob as he always makes those in his presence feel comfortable and valued. Due to COVID-19, Bob has not been able to provide his usual service, his smiling face at the lunches each week has been very much sadly missed. Bob is well and truly an asset to his community.
- Ian Glover: Ian is a well-respected, conscientious and hardworking Bushcare volunteer. Ian's dedication in caring for the local natural environment is shown by his reliable attendance of the following Council and NPWS Bushcare/Landcare Groups: . Sutton Park Bushcare Group (Council) . Woody Weed Wander Bushcare Group (Council) . Remote Bushcare (Council) . Co-ordinator/member of Valley View Swampcare Group (Council) . Braeside Bushcare Group (NPWS) . NPWS and Council Bushcare/Swampcare Events Ian is always willing to support other volunteers in sharing knowledge and ideas, as well as assisting with transport. Ian is very supportive of friends who require assistance during times of illness or in general need. Ian's love of the natural environment and of his fellow volunteers are admirable qualities.
- Elizabeth Norman: Ann, as she is known to many, has undertaken a myriad of roles to assist her Blue Mountains community over the years. Her roles have included; Treasurer of the Ladies Probus Club; President of Leura Garden Club; Assistance Chief Instructor of the Blue Mountains Dog Training Club and assisted with Leura Garden festival to raise much needed funds for supporting a number of health and community related groups including the work of the following: . Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial Hospital, . Greystanes Disability Service . Cancer Wellness Support . Blue Mountains Health Trust . Can Assist . Blue Mountains Branch Baptist Care Morven Gardens, Leura to assist with the development of a sensory/dementia friendly garden. Her love for her community and that of our four-legged friends saw her provide a Pets As Therapy Program to the residents at Bodington Aged Care Facility for the past 20 years. Ann is a worthy recipient of the 2021 Seniors Week Recognition Award.
- Sabrina Haberlah: It's been a pleasure getting to know Sabrina over the years and the different ways of looking at a situation that she brings. Sabrina has been visiting for both the Community Visitors Scheme and the Volunteer Home Visitors service. Sabrina brings with her a presence of calm when visiting clients; Sabrina is able to sit and really listen. Sabrina has visited people living with complex health and cognitive needs and has been a great comfort where carers have been involved and needed support. Sabrina's ability to make people feel safe and secure from first meeting is a valuable skill. Thank you, Sabrina for your ability to put others at ease and for your calmness. I would also like to acknowledge your flexibility and support in sharing your technology skills. 2020 has shone a spotlight on many areas of disadvantage. In particular, it highlighted that many who were already socially isolated were additionally impacted due to also being technology-disadvantaged.
- Sam Refalo: Sam has been volunteering for Blue Mountains Food Services for some time now, supporting the delivery of our Meals on Wheels service to older people and people with a disability. Sam is well known for his friendly demeanour and caring attitude with patrons. Clients of Food Services always look forward to seeing Sam's welcoming face and to the friendly chats he has with them. Despite the perils of COVID-19, Sam had no hesitation in continuing to deliver meals to many vulnerable clients. His first and last thought is always to help those less able in the community, whether it be through a meal or a friendly chat.
- Elizabeth Godleman: Elizabeth has been an inspiring, enthusiastic and dedicated facilitator for Springwood Neighbourhood Centre for the past 18 years. She has contributed to the health and wellbeing of seniors in the Springwood Community through her wonderful yoga and relaxation classes. By providing accessible and affordable tuition in a fun and friendly setting, Elizabeth keeps her senior clients strong, flexible and happy. This is so important for ageing in place. Elizabeth's warm personality and fabulous sense of humour have brought much laughter and sense of purpose to the daily lives of the seniors she teaches. Her classes have been instrumental in empowering participants to be positive and independent and to live their lives to the fullest.
- Pat Ainslie: Pat has been volunteering in numerous roles in her life and is very community minded. Since joining the Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre she has become a valuable resource in the organising of 'Our Community Shop' and is always available to assist in whatever is asked of her. She is the one stop shop for assistance with anything. If it wasn't for Pat's energy and drive the Community Shop would not operate as well as it does. In every thing she does, she puts the needs of others first and foremost . Pat is liked by all and is considered part of the Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre family.
- Sean Moylan: Sean joined Catholic Care as a volunteer in 2016. Every Thursday afternoon, free of charge, Sean mentors and encourages senior users of digital technology. Sean guides these users - many of which are first timers - in the use of phones, ipads, laptops, and desktops in our Springwood Drop in Centre. We receive regular feedback about how patient, understanding, knowledgeable and wonderful Sean is. Testament to Sean's commitment and willingness to help seniors get on-line are his repeat clients and that he is most often booked-out in advance. Sean has been generous in using his own data to hot spot clients during times when the Internet connection has been down. When he not helping a senior navigate technology, he volunteers his time with RFS.
- Christine Barlow: Christine has been a member of the Quota Club of Blackheath for 21 years, having held positions of President and/or Treasurer for the Club over several years. Christine has also worked for Greystanes Children's Home and has participated in many events to support our vulnerable. She is passionate about serving the local community and does this in an unassuming quiet manner. She has endeared herself to many in the Blue Mountains and we are very lucky to have her give her time to our community. She is definitely a worthy recipient of this award due to her longstanding dedication to the community.
- Diane Stebbings: Wow, what a privilege it has been to be connected with Diane all these years! Diane continues to be extremely supportive to her community, this has been especially challenging over the past twelve months due to the impacts of Covid-19 and restrictions. Diane has been volunteering with the Belong Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre Volunteer Home Visitors Service for many years and has been of significant support in the lives of the people she visits. Diane has the ability to be present and in the moment with the people she sees. Diane continues to provide one of our most valued connections of social support through the home library service. Diane has an ability to connect to people she visits and has done this over many years, whether it has been in the home or taking people out into the community. For Diane, it's never just about being able to take someone to the library and get some books. Diane has been there with her clients through many changes and challenges in life and is a great support to many.
- Carol Ross: While Carol has not volunteered for Blue Mountains Food Services for a long period of time, she has been keen to support the vulnerable in our community by delivering meals to older people and people with a disability. In her short period of time with Food Services, Carol has endeared herself to many. Carol is well known for her friendly demeanour and caring attitude with our many clients who receive a meal. Many clients she visits look forward to her company first and foremost, then the meal. Carol was inspirational during Covid-19, she had no hesitation in continuing to deliver meals to vulnerable clients despite the risks involved in circulating in the community during the peak of the pandemic.
- Ben Lund: Ben has lived at Merindal Hamlet, Baptist Care Glenbrook, with his wife Audrey for the past two years. He is well loved around the Hamlet with the other residents and is often found volunteering to assist the more senior residents with household tasks such as taking out the rubbish or moving items that they cannot manage. He does all of this regularly and without being asked which shows his kindness, caring and compassion for his fellow residents. He is rarely seen without a smile on his face and a cherry 'hello'. Ben is a humble man who thinks nothing of helping others and sees his care for others as simple deeds but to many they are monumental gifts. I have no hesitation in recommending Ben for this nomination.
- Glenys Bann: Glenys has been a member of the Quota Club of Blackheath for 29 years and has held the position of President of the Club over several terms. Glenys has always provided strong guidance and participation in all of Quota's activities. Glenys will go out of her way to assist all in Quota and the community. Glenys' organisation skills and ability to encourage her fellow members to actively engage in discussion and listen to one another are skills that are dearly treasured by all at the Club. Glenys is unassuming and humble in everything she does. Glenys, having also been a long time business owner in the Blue Mountains, has well and truly showed support for her community well beyond the Quota Club of Blackheath.
- Stephen Makepeace: Stephen has been volunteering for Blue Mountains Food Services for a few years and has consistently supported us in the delivery of our Meals on Wheels service to older people and people with a disability. Stephen, like other valued volunteers of the Blue Mountains Food Service, had no hesitation in continuing to deliver meals to vulnerable clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stephen's go-to attitude - and his belief that a person's well-being and their health go hand-in-hand - has made him a loved volunteer to his peers and the clients he serves. Along with enjoying their meal, clients of Food Services always look forward to seeing Stephen and having their chat with him on the issues of the day.
- ORGANISATION AWARD: The Armstrong Op Shop - Wentworth Falls Elizabeth and her husband were the founding members of the Armstrong Op Shop. They established the small op shop in the original old weatherboard church in September 1998. Before long it became known amongst the local community and became a very popular place to visit every Friday. Through donations, a team of loyal volunteers serve the growing Wentworth Falls local community and beyond. More and more people have discovered the welcoming, peaceful atmosphere filled with all manner of goods at very modest prices to meet their needs. During wintertime free clothing has been made available for the elderly and struggling families to keep them warm. There is always someone to chat to and share stories and problems with over a morning tea with a volunteer. Many enduring relationships have been formed through this personal contact and assistance, especially to the aged community. It has continued every Friday of each school term. Whilst many a service during Covid-19 ceased or was limited, the introduction of COVID restrictions saw the Op Shop remain a visible and viable institution. Funds raised continue to support many charities and the original goal of reaching out to the community is being realised. Helen Buckle, with her late husband David, initiated this ministry and at 83 is still the manager.