This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Uniting Aged Care Board, bringing together most Uniting Church aged care services in Victoria. Tasmanian services were brought under the responsibility of the Board in 2005.
To mark the 10-year anniversary, a series of morning teas have been held at Uniting AgeWell facilities throughout the two states. Director of community relations Bruce Argyle and director of mission John Clarke have met with more than 200 people instrumental in the development of aged care in the Uniting Church.
Since February this year, the two men have travelled to 15 Uniting AgeWell sites. They have heard stories of vision, fundraising, generous bequests and old-fashioned hard work that all contributed to the establishment of the organisation as it is today.
Mr Argyle said that although each meeting was different, some common themes emerged in their discussions.
“Perhaps the strongest theme to come through was the determination and wise stewardship required in the early days,” Mr Argyle said.
“Most people we spoke with told us of the massive volunteer effort, which built very strong relationships between all of those involved. They experienced a sense of great satisfaction as their vision was realised and they built and ran their own local residential aged care facility.”
Among those they met was Mavis Murray. The resident of Kalkee in Geelong told of how her husband Col was instrumental in fundraising for the future building. He even built an architectural model that he would display to potential donors. Others spoke of the many years of fundraising and volunteering, forming lasting friendships and genuine pride in the facilities they supported.
Mr Argyle said the next step for Uniting AgeWell is to develop a ‘Friends’ group for those who attended the morning teas.
“It was a really positive experience to engage with previous stakeholders,” he said. “It has been a real honour to bear witness to their stories and acknowledge the invaluable part they have played and continue to play at Uniting AgeWell.”