The Impossible Pie Lady - Cherie Graham, wax & oil on canvas, 40 x 40, ©Stephanie Brown
Sometimes life just doesn't go to plan and the unexpected disasterhappens. Many people now are living week to week, one pay cheque awayfrom the street. So what if you find yourself down on your luck and needa comforting hand to help get you back on track?
That's when you'd meet extraordinary people like Cherie Graham.Cherie has dedicated the last thirty years to volunteer work, Giving hertime to such charities as Lifeline and St Vincent de Paul. She was alsothe first women President at St Vincent de Paul, Brookvale, a positionshe held for five years.
It was a pleasure to meet Cherie and she was kind enough to share her story with us.
"We pass this way but once, any kindness we can do, do it now."
"When I was a child I imagined there were thousands of pennieshidden in our house, like Scrooge McDuck all shiny in a big tin chest.Then my Grandmother told me that we were actually poor and we had tosave the pennies to buy things. She always gave me what I wanted thoughand if I liked the red coat with the fur collar she would have paid itoff over years. She would say 'if you owed it, you didn't own it'.
The Driver - Joe Mills, oil & wax on canvas, 40 x 40 cm © Stephanie Brown 2011
A friend of the family had to undergo reconstructive knee surgery recently. Having always been an independent person living alone, they suddenly found themselves housebound recuperating and unable to get anywhere. So what do people do when they ﬁnd themselves in such a challenging predicament?
They contact an organisation like Manly Warringah Pittwater Community Aid Service. They offer community support assisting the frail, aged, youth with disabilities and carers to remain in their own homes yet still be as independent as possible. That's when youʼd be greeted by a cheerful volunteer like Joe Mills knocking on your door.
I met Joe in a local cafe and he chatted about what led up to being a volunteer and his interesting life.
"Friendly faces will always ﬁnd each other in a crowd,
Even walking in a street you can always ﬁnd someone smiling at you.
You think to yourself, that was nice, was I smiling"
Man on a Mission - Anthony Petrolo, Wax and oil, 40 x 40 cm ©Stephanie Brown
Next, I met Anthony Petrolo, young and full of that youthful enthusiasm, on a mission to better the environment and happy to speak on behalf of his generation. Anthony recently had a wonderful offer from the NSW Greens to run as a candidate for the NSW Legislative Council.
One thing for sure he's passionate about his cause's. Whether it's Clean up Australia, Bush Regeneration or promoting his folding bike, his concerns for the environment are to be commended.
Anthony generously arrived bearing gifts. One of those trendy reusable coffee mug and a BPA free bundy water bottle from the bottled water free town Bundanoon. So no more excuses for coffee cups and water bottles to the landﬁll from me. From now on I've got a clear conscience. Well, I'm working on it.
Anthony had lots to chat about and is deﬁnitely not one to shy from conversation about conservation.
"A couple of years ago I never could have anticipated how much Iʼd contribute towards improving the community and the local natural environment through my volunteer activities.
Living in the moment - Angela Van Boxtel, wax & oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm ©Stephanie Brown
As any parent knows work and family are difficult to juggle, but for Angela Van Boxtel she'd have it no other way. She's always there to pick her boys up from school and always volunteering for an arts project in her Manly community.
Angela and I met recently at a beachside cafe in Manly with our kids in tow. While the kids happily amused themselves in the sand in their own little world, we kept a watchful eye nearby enjoying a coffee and of course the magical scenery. Angela shared insightful observations and chatted about living her dream life here in Australia.
"There's so much I could tell you,
But in the end, it's a feeling that I can't describe,
'Living is Giving'
Isn't that what connects all us volunteers".