National Volunteer Week is Australia’s annual celebration of volunteering. Emmanuel Centre would like to take this opportunity to celebrate and recognise the important work of volunteers and to say thank you. In this edition, we’d like to highlight one of our volunteers, Ann Page. Ann has been a volunteer here for 15 years! She is a wonderful volunteer: supportive, a good listener, and responds to the needs around her naturally. An absolute blessing!
She doesn’t baulk at a challenge and is willing to give things a go. Although normally quiet, Ann will ask and challenge us if she sees something is not right or needs doing. On the occasion when she sees a need she will buy something and donate it. Below is her story about her work with us, in her own words (edited). We thought it would be good to include some photos of her with us. But there are not many photos of her as she’s the type that works quietly and efficiently in the background. We hope the couple of photos that we did find would show us all her wonderful involvement throughout the years. The first photo was taken at one of our Monthly Deaf Nights and there she was in the background, the one making sure we’re all well fed. The second photo was taken last year on the 3rd anniversary of Fr. Paul’s passing. Ann led us in prayer at the Garden of Remembrance that day.
My involvement with the Emmanuel Centre (by Ann Page)
In August 2006, my daughter was struggling with the effects of living alone along with depression. I knew about the Emmanuel Centre, and thought it might be helpful for her to volunteer there. To encourage this, we both worked on a project together as it was overwhelming for her to do it by herself.
In March 2007, I decided to become a volunteer at the Centre 1 day a week. My daughter did not join me, as she had found some paid work.
The task that became mine was to do the shopping for the two houses that are managed by Emmanuel Centre (27 and 29 Windsor Street). The Centre had a history dating back to 1981 of helping people needing care, and a place of shelter. In earlier days, a much higher number of houses meant that there was a house carer in each. By 2007 the residents managed themselves. Every week, each resident produced a list of items they needed to make their meals, I would assess the lists, and begin by identifying whatever was already in stock. The remaining items not in stock would form the combined shopping list.
In the years that followed, I also became involved with the Catholic Mental Health Network, where small groups in parishes were set up. Regular training sessions and meetings took place, mostly on weekends. I would take the minutes at these meetings, and also deal with hospitality.
Today I am still a volunteer at a very different Emmanuel Centre. It is now 40 years since it began. Why am I still coming? I guess some kind of loyalty to the original self-help philosophy by which it has operated for all these years. The concept that each person who comes here, either as a volunteer or as a resident, has something to give, and their best endeavours, however small, must, and will be honoured.
CATHOLIC MENTAL HEALTH NETWORK GATHERING
Below are the Ladies from some of the Parishes in Perth who attended the Mental Health First Aiders Mass, followed by afternoon tea, held at the Cathedral undercroft on the 12th of March 2022. The Ladies discussed some of the challenges they are facing with helping people in their Parishes with their mental wellbeing.
Joe O’Brien, Director of the Emmanuel Centre, informed the group that the “Do Not Be Afraid” project was still in progress and discussed some of the processes it was going through. We would welcome more members, who have done the Mental Health First Aid Course from Parishes, to attend these meetings which are held regularly. The problems, challenges and resolutions discussed, could help others facing similar situations. If you are a member and would like to attend our meetings, and are not already receiving our emails, please contact the Emmanuel Centre on email@example.com or 9328 8113.
GEOFF’S STATUE FIXING PROJECTS
I’m sure most of you know of our resident deaf artist Geoff. He has a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Curtin University and he leads the Tuesday morning art class here at the Emmanuel Centre.
Since the middle of last year, Geoff has applied his artistic skills to repairing and restoring religious statues, bringing the saints back to life if they have been damaged or their colours have faded over the years. So far, Geoff has repaired two Marys (one belonging to the Legion of Mary and the other a personal owner), a baby Jesus (personal owner), and an Archangel Michael (St. Denis parish).
To give us a glimpse into his process, I asked him to describe his work process and this is a summary of what he said: First, he’ll glue back any broken parts, including gluing back statues that have been completely broken in halves. After that, he’ll use plaster to fill in any missing bits, for example the baby Jesus was missing a toe so he used plaster to give it a tiny toe to complete his foot. After that he’ll smooth down any uneven surface by sanding. And lastly is painting, which is very delicately done to restore faces, clothes, and any other parts. Geoff will match skin tone etc to the original to the best of his ability, and also add touches of paint that he thinks will improve it (eg he painted the saints’ halo in gold paint to make it more shiny).
In the attached photos, you can see some of the materials that he uses in his work (plaster, paint). And you can also see a couple of the statues he repaired. Mary was very faded and missing half her facial features when she was brought to us. After a couple of months with Geoff, she went home with a much better appearance, with her new nose job, blue dress, and gold hem. The Archangel Michael statue was completely broken in half, with a crooked lance when presented to Geoff, and he restored it to his former glory—standing over the devil that he stabbed.
The latest project that Geoff just finished is a statue of Infant Jesus of Prague (right). He said it’s tricky because after looking at how it’s supposed to look (through internet research, as shown in printed photo), he realised the small statue should have two crucifixes, one on the crown and the other one on the globe that’s held in its hand. Both crucifixes were missing, so Geoff had to build tiny crucifixes and affix them in place, before going on with finishing, painting etc. We are very impressed with the final result!
If you have any religious statues that need repair, we encourage you to get in contact with us either by calling 9328 8113 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that repair will take time (a few months) as Geoff only works on it part time and he needs to allow drying time in between each step of work/ each layer of paint. Geoff doesn’t charge any fee for his time, but would gratefully accept donations to contribute towards purchasing his materials (please ask if you’d like some indication of materials cost).
With Covid in the community, we have our share of members or staff self-isolating, but thankfully we are able to keep the Day Activities open and running for those that are able to come. Here are some photos to show what we’ve been up to this term.
It is always hard when someone you love is suffering
Watching the confusion in their eyes
Knowing that its not going to get better
That their time is close
No idea exactly when
Their bodies giving out on them
Their freedom being taken away
Their frustration growing
As they struggle to express themselves
At times not knowing who you are
Other times asking for you
Then not remembering what they wanted
Still you calm them down
Listen even though it doesn’t make sense
Or they are far in the past
Their eyes light up when you arrive
Happy to see your face
Responding to your love
Love borne out of a long standing relationship
The person you remember gone long ago.
The reflection above is about my Dad. He is 99 years old and takes a lot out of me when I visit which I do regularly. It is a struggle at times getting the motivation to go and see him. He is my Dad so I go.
22 years ago my Mum was diagnosed with cancer that wasn’t operable. Dad is just 5 foot tall and Mum was nearly 6 foot and overweight. He nursed her with a dedication that was incredible. When she got bad he bathed her, turned her and fed her without flinching for almost 12 months. He has significant problems with his legs and they are painful at times, he never complained. Finally totally exhausted he agreed for her to have some respite in a hospice where she passed away.
I have learnt a lot from Dad. Learnt if you love someone you don’t give up. If someone you love is fighting to look after a loved one, often you feel that you can do nothing. It is not true though, simply being around and listening is powerful. It is that sometimes silent presence that can be truly beneficial. Frustrates you but it is beneficial.
Over the years I have found a beautiful way of looking at suffering. Christ called out on the Cross eli eli lama sabatani or “My God, My God why have you abandoned me”. It is in offering suffering to God that I have found peace. Christ suffered then he rose.