A lifetime of volunteering

Volunteers at Southhaven Aged Care

Daphne Lapham and Joan Wing have volunteered for Christadelphian Aged Care for decades, and still love it.


“I became involved with the Combined Dorcas Committee as a representative from the Hurstville Dorcas Group. June Harris had been Secretary/Treasurer for quite some time and said she would like to resign. By way of keeping her on as Secretary, I volunteered to take on the Treasurer role, which I did and held the position for 30 years. The biggest event the Committee was involved with was the annual Spring Fair held at Southhaven Aged Care.

These days involved quite an amount of money, the coins having to be wrapped, which was quite tedious, and then large sums of money taken to the bank on the following Monday. Quite often my husband and I slept with large amounts of coin under our bed on Saturday night, as it would not all fit in the night safe at the bank. I really enjoyed the day of the Spring Fair, as it gave me a chance to catch up with people I had not seen for some time and also to see the pleasure the nursing home residents received from being able to get out and enjoy the company of people they knew, especially if it was a nice day. It was often a long day, from early morning, setting up the stalls etc., to late evening, counting the takings and then taking them to the night safe at the bank. I missed the work involved on Spring Fair days, but I must admit it was great to be able to attend these days, and still help where help was needed, but not be involved with the organisation of the day.

The Committee organised many functions for the residents, the concerts were always fun, especially run by Betty McGonigal, who was a born comedien, and the various local Christadephian congregations joined in by doing various items.

The time came when the Committee members, all being in their 70s and 80s, decided it was time to retire and hand over to the younger generation. Now I am happy to help Daphne Lapham with the knitting group, which is quite fun, knitting for “Wraps with Love”. Daphne has her “medicine” with her, reading a few jokes, etc. and having a good laugh. Sometimes there is not a great deal of knitting done but a lot of talk and laughter. It is rewarding to be able to make a small change to the usual routine of the residents’ day.”


“Volunteering for me goes back a long way to my teens helping with the gardens at the Christadelphian Nursing Home at Strathfield (I think the help was minimal, but enjoyable for us at that age). The involvement over the years progressed to sewing children’s clothes for the “Spring Fair” or as it was then known the “Sale of Work”. Then later I helped support the kiosk and about five or six years ago I joined with my sister Hazel to start the knitting group at Southhaven. We thoroughly enjoyed this and received enthusiastic support from those residents who took up their needles again. One very lovely lady was thrilled to be ablw to knit and help others. She was such a wonderful support that she would knit about 15 10” squares each fortnight. She said she couldn’t just sit and do nothing, she was in her late 80s to over 90 when she was too sick to keep going, and was even apologetic about not giving us support. What a privilege it was for Hazel and I to have such a friend, and the three of us had become very close. After Hazel moved to Adelaide, Joan Wing joined and I knew she would be a great support.

Repeatedly, when I am looking for more residents to be involved, they say they used to do a lot of knitting but now their fingers are stiff, or they can’t see enough now. But I tell them we would just like their company, and join in the chatter. When they do come in and we give them needles and wool they are surprised how quickly it all comes back to them; in fact some have been surprised that their fingers are still working and even more supple. We lighten the conversation by reading humorous stories, or interesting snippets which often starts another conversation. Sometimes relatives come in and some are quite happy to join in the knitting; others just sit with their loved one and add to the conversation which everyone enjoys. All of us, Joan, Hazel, June and myself feel we have gained more than we can give and would love to have many more to enjoy the group.

The squares are joined up to make quite large single blankets and either sent to “Wrap with Love” run by the ABC or to others in need. I think we would have made more than 60 blankets over the years.