Tags: Volunteers. Bribie Island. Understanding addictions. Drug awareness. Drug Courses.
Meet the Volunteers
JULIA and JOHN WATSON
Since they retired, locals Julia and John Watson enjoy being able to spend time doing the things that they enjoy including taking their two dogs for a walk on the beach and going out for a meal. Something else that the couple is passionate about is volunteering and, as a way of helping within the local community, they spend their Wednesday mornings manning the reception area at the Bribie Island and District Neighbourhood Centre. Julia and John moved to this beautiful area after coming to Australia from England twenty-five years ago.
They had both been serving members of the Royal Air Force and on arriving here, John found employment with The Red Cross and later on with Angel Flight whilst Julia worked for the Blood Bank prior to taking up a position with the Caboolture Council until accepting a redundancy package when the mergers took place.
Until commencing at the Neighbourhood Centre in September 2017, the pair devoted their efforts to the Bribie and District Wildlife Rescue, caring mainly for sick birds, with Julia taking on the position of Secretary and John becoming the organisation’s Training Officer. Both Julia and John are what I would refer to as “people persons” and as such is ideally suited to being the ones who become the first point of contact for those who come to the centre for assistance.
They are tasked with making sure that people are referred to the right service, either at the Neighbourhood Centre or at another agency. ‘It is a terrific feeling when, after someone comes here with a problem and are unsure about how to handle it, we see them leave feeling a lot happier,’ said John. ‘One person said to us, “This is the first time in ages that I have felt good and it’s so nice to know that someone cares.”
I think we all had a bit of a tear in our eyes that morning,’ he added. As well as their role at the Bribie Island and District Neighbourhood Centre, this couple do have other individual pastimes and for Julia, it is cooking, now that she has the time, whilst John enjoys nurturing his Bonsai trees.
They told me that as a way of keeping fit, they have set up a small gym at home but they have yet to take proper advantage of it. ‘The walking machine is the dustiest thing in the house,’ Julia quipped. Julia and John Watson are two of the many wonderful volunteers who give of their time to ensure that the Neighbourhood Centre is kept operating and Centre Manager Cecelia Taylor told me that they would love to have more volunteers who can spare a few hours each week to help out.
‘We need new volunteers who are caring and nonjudgemental and are able to maintain confidentiality to work with people who attend our service,’ Cecelia explained. ‘Communication skills along with a great telephone manner are really appreciated and I would ask that if there is anyone who would like to make a positive difference in their community by joining our team, they contact us either by calling in at 9 Verdoni Street at Bellara or by phone on 3408 8440,’ she said.
The many services that are available at the centre include Professional Debt Relief, Counselling which can help people to work out how they can deal with the challenges they are facing, free Computer Tuition for seniors, a service that teaches people to use the various options associated with the internet and also Emergency Relief along with free Legal Advice.
Each Tuesday morning from 9.30am, the Neighbourhood Centre provides Fresh Food for people in need through the Neighbourhood Harvest program and the centre also has a Bargain Boutique which offers a great variety of good quality pre-loved items at low prices. There are a number of free courses and other groups that operate at the centre and this includes the Multi-Cultural English Conversation Group which is held from 9 am to 12 noon each Monday.
The Understanding Addictions Course begins on April 23rd at 5 pm. This is a three-week introductory course which is suitable for anyone who is affected by addictions, either their own or the addictions of their loved ones.
The Bribie Island and District Neighbourhood Centre provide help to so many within our community each week and the work of the volunteers is absolutely outstanding Anyone who would like more information about how to become a volunteer at the centre should make contact with them as soon as possible.
They can be contacted by phone on 3408 8440 or by calling into the centre at 9 Verdoni Street at Bellara during opening hours which are Monday to Thursday from 9 am until 3 pm.