If you bumped into Uniting AgeWell Kings Meadows and Newnham chaplain Ian Wheeler and administration officer Jane Legard last month, you can be forgiven for thinking they weren’t their usual chatty selves.
Both were silently supporting the northern Tasmania AgeWell residents raise much-needed funds for an Ethiopian orphanage and were sponsored to go without talking for a day.
“We’re generally quite chatty and say ‘hello’ to everyone we see, so it was really hard to go a whole day without saying a word,” Jane said.
To get through the day of ‘sponsored silence’, the pair adjusted the way they worked and wore signs explaining their sudden loss of speech. Their signs read ‘I am not being rude in not talking to you, I am taking part in a sponsored silence’.
Without uttering a single word between 10am and 3pm, they ran the daily church service, took part in a trivia competition and undertook some of their daily work.
“I made a PowerPoint presentation with the church service on it, and sourced an Easter-themed sermon from the internet to play on the closed-circuit television,” Ian said.
“It was a bit of a challenge for me but it was a novel thing and everybody was supportive.”
Residents, families, staff and other supporters got behind the event, raising more than $1000 for the orphanage.
The Uniting AgeWell sites have supported the Care for Children and Elders Life Association (CCELA) orphanage for 15 months through various methods. They were introduced to its work by Aldersgate Lifestyle coordinator Karen Robinson who was friends with one of the people who established the orphanage. It promotes the well-being of orphaned and vulnerable children as well as supporting elderly people, and is a non-political, not for profit and non-governmental humanitarian organisation.