Health service helpers share the honours

By Southern Riverina News

The small band of volunteers known as ‘The Wednesday Group’ in Jerilderie has become the second group in recent history to be awarded the Murrumbisgee Council Citizen of the Year Award.

Breaking with tradition, council awarded the honour jointly to Anne Hardie, Joan Kuschert, Elaine Forbes and Joan Atkinson for their commitment to providing a social outlet for the older members of the Jerilderie community.

The only other group winner since the 1990s was the Jerilderie Tidy Towns, which claimed the award in 2013.

Mrs Hardie helped establish the group 18 years ago, when her own mother became a resident of the Jerilderie Multi Purpose Service’s aged care facility.

‘‘The MPS has 12 beds for aged care, and we initially started by providing bingo on a Wednesday morning,’’ Mrs Hardie said.

‘‘There would also be cards in the afternoon.

‘‘We still do bingo now, and we also provide morning tea.

‘‘These types of activities stimulate the aged care residents, and we volunteers get a lot of joy from it as well.’’

Mrs Hardie said the activities are so well received, older members of the general public come along to the MPS to join in on the fun.

She said participant numbers range between 18 and 22 on any given Wednesday, with the four ladies assisted by other willing volunteers as required.

‘‘We’re happy to do it because it is our contribution to our community,’’ Mrs Hardie said.

‘‘We were beside ourselves when we found out we were nominated, because we did not think a little group like ours would be eligible.

‘‘We were very taken aback by the win.

‘‘When you volunteer you don’t expect accolades like that.’’

The idea of The Wednesday Group is to provide a place where older members of the commuity can meet, create, play and share fellowship, while enjoying morning tea and lunch.

The day offers friendship and entertainment and a break from regular daily routines.

‘‘This group of dedicated and willing ladies play a vital part in caring for our elderly, and their success is measured by the enjoyment of those who attend,’’ the group’s award citation read.

‘‘They are quiet achievers who do what they do out of a genuine love of helping others. They acknowledge the valuable contributions of our elder citizens, they recognise the need for everyone to be heard and respected, and they provide this wonderful social forum as their way of saying thank you.

‘‘Their generosity of spirit supports the Jerilderie MPS residents in so many ways, and makes our community a richer and more inviting place because of this wonderful group.

‘‘They are proud to be labelled The Wednesday Group, and have also been referred to as ‘The Ladies Who Do’.’’