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Echuca Neighbourhood House celebrates 20 year volunteer

By Anna McGuinness

ECHUCA Neighbourhood House is celebrating dedicated volunteer Ev Holzer for 20 years of service and commitment to delivering their services.

Back in 2000 Ev was recovering from post-natal depression and came to ENH looking to start a support group for people like her.

“There wasn’t anything in Echuca so I wanted to provide a place for mothers also experiencing post-natal depression to get together,” she said.

“I didn’t want to let any other women go through what I went through, I fell through the medical system because the doctors and maternal and child health were uninformed, there just wasn’t the information out there at the time.

“I remember I started with about six of us and at one stage I actually had 15 women in the one little room.

“To start the group I had to join the ENH committee and that’s how that all started.”

After running the support group for about a decade, Echuca Regional Health had started a similar initiative so Ev turned to another passion of hers; cooking, starting up the two-course lunch ENH offer to the community for a gold coin donation.

“I was the first cook for the Monday lunches, the idea came from Girgarre and at one stage a few years ago we served 32 meals in one sitting,” she said.

Ev also worked as a regional parenting educator, running parenting workshops using her background as a teacher, and now offers tutoring for adults in literacy and numeracy.

It shows great commitment to stick with anything for two decades and for Ev it’s mostly the people she’s met that keep bringing her back.

“I gain as much out of it as what I give and it’s also having the privilege of being on people’s journeys and making a positive difference in people’s lives,” she said.

She also highlights the contributions from the local community, emphasised at the moment with the generosity shown during the coronavirus despite the major disruption to people’s lives.

“I am amazed - at the moment with so many eateries closing down - at how organisations are coming forward and asking us if we can use their food to distribute through our food is free program and also for us to deliver to people we know are doing it tough,” she said.

Her proudest achievements are running the support group and passing on her knowledge through cooking classes, but she won’t take personal credit, it's all about the teamwork.

“It’s not just me it’s a whole team of volunteers and the community who supports us, it’s a team effort,” she said

“The time has flown, I just can’t believe it’s been 20 years, you just look back and think where has it gone? But I hope to continue.

“When you’re learning from others you grow yourself and that’s been part of it too.”

After two decades she’s not slowing down anytime soon either, which plans to continue offering whatever she can to help the community through the house, and despite her efforts being recognised, Ev makes sure to thank those around her.

“I’d like to acknowledge the current and past managers, co-ordinators and committee for their initiatives, we wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for them,” she said.

ENH had planned a surprise party this week to celebrate the milestone but due to coronavirus scaled it back to an afternoon tea and presentation of her 20 year plaque.