Aura residents have the biggest hearts
Volunteering is an important part of the lives of many of our residents. As Aura Holdings’ residents have the kindest hearts, volunteering is a natural fit.
Here are just a few of the amazing things our residents are doing to support others in their communities or around the world!
Mary and Trevor Read (pictured above and below), of The Avenue Maroochydore, have had a long association with charities supporting children in India. Mary, who has a midwifery background, was horrified to learn of the extent of female infanticide in India and the couple, with the support of friends and family, helped to fund a home about 16 years ago to care for unwanted babies.
Locals were employed to care for the babies and with help from supporters in Australia were able to provide baby goods, clothing and toys.
“In India it is very expensive to have girls, to bring them up and pay a dowry when they marry,’’ Mary explains. “For parents living in poverty paying a dowry means going into a debt they will never escape. Girls can be born, taken away and disposed of. It’s tragic.
“Eight babies were rescued – six girls and two boys – before the orphanage was disbanded. We discovered they were living with a poor childless couple, who were struggling to care for eight small children so we promised to help – that was nine years ago. With our friends and family members we were able to provide the children with new lodgings, education, food and clothes.’’
Later the Indian Government stepped in at a time when many other Christian charities were restricted. The children were taken into government care and split up. Happily, one young girl was able to be reunited with her parents after they married, the boys were sent to a hostel and the remaining five girls, aged between 13 and 16, were placed together.
“With continued help from supporters we have enabled the further education of these five girls who are now in late primary and high school. They attend English speaking school and are all doing well and achieving high marks. We hope some will go on to university,'' Mary says.
“Sadly, with Covid we haven’t been able to get back to India for the past two and a half years as we have developed a real connection with them all.
“At times we can become despondent about their situation but we know there are eight children alive who might not otherwise be.’’
When Geoff Ivett (pictured) retired six years ago he heard Sherwood Meals on Wheels were desperately seeking volunteers so, with some spare time on his hands, he answered the call.
Meals on Wheels has become a big part of Geoff’s life and his dedication as a tireless volunteer earned him a Local Hero award at the 2019 Australia Day Community Service Honours and a 2021 Moreton Volunteer Award.
“It’s a chance to help others and it gives me a lot of personal satisfaction,’’ Geoff, a resident of Kingsford Terrace Corinda, says. “I still fill in a fair bit, but my regular week now is delivering meals two days a week and every Friday I do a big day assembling orders that include supplies for the weekend and then I organise the orders for Monday.
“We cover the suburbs of Oxley, Corinda, Sherwood and Chelmer. When we do our deliveries it’s also an opportunity to check on clients, even to make sure they are drinking enough water. It’s more than a meal, it’s important social contact for many, we even do a few errands for them if we can.
“I will probably keep volunteering for as long as I can stand up, well I am fairly fit. We actually have one volunteer who is turning 90 and she has been volunteering for 50 years at Meals on Wheels. It suits many older volunteers as you don’t have to keep doing the driving as there are other tasks to do.’’
Jo Higgins (pictured) says she volunteers as the manager at Lily House “because I’ve been lucky to have a good life and just want to give something back’’.
Lily House is a Sunshine Coast charity supporting vulnerable and at-risk young women and their children.
“By the grace of God the women we help could be any of my own kids and I’d like to think there would be someone to help them,’’ Jo says. “These young women arrive at Lily House broken, they might be homeless, fleeing domestic violence trauma, recovering from drug abuse or just out of jail.
“We show them what it is to be loved and give them basic skills for life and parenting to support them to transition back into the community. But it’s not a hotel; there are very strict rules and the girls have to learn and make progress.’’
Jo says after decades in senior management roles in the public service, volunteering at Lily House delivers much personal satisfaction. “It is an amazing feeling to watch a broken girl arrive here, get clean, put her life back on track and have her kids returned from foster care. I am always amazed how strong they are,’’ she says.
Jo volunteers an average 15 to 20 hours a week at Lily House or working from her apartment at The Avenue Maroochydore, and she has no plans to stop. “There’s not enough hours to do what I would like to do, particularly encouraging others to volunteer.’’