Last week Joan turned 90, and as someone who generally doesn’t want to be made a fuss over, she hadn’t told the staff and other volunteers while doing her regular Thursday volunteering at Archives.
“It was a big surprise when the birthday cake appeared,” Joan said.
“It was just a lovely surprise and to have people happy for me was nice.”
Joan soon discovered how the secret had got out.
“When I registered to be a volunteer I had to put my birthdate on the form,” she said.
Joan began volunteering at Archives a few months ago following the death of her husband UCA minister Reynolds Waters.
“For nearly 12 years I was caring for my husband with dementia,” she said.
“He died in the middle of last year and afterwards I didn’t do anything for a little while, except cry.
“And then I thought that I could do something.”
Joan, who has authored a number of books on the UCA and Christian themes, became well acquainted with Archives while researching a work on church kindergartens a few years ago.
She said volunteering had been therapeutic for her.
“I love it. It’s a thing to do every week when suddenly you’re not caring for someone, it’s a good thing,” she said.
“I’ve always liked to be useful.”
Joan, who has been learning how to catalogue the collection, said it was interesting and social work.
“Looking through archival photographs I come across people I have known or names I have heard about. It’s always pleasant to reminiscence with the other volunteers,” she said.
Joan is well known in UCA circles for her work in educating congregations on being understanding and pastorally caring for people with dementia.
“I’ve been doing some volunteering with Alzheimer’s Australia as well,” she said.
“That’s really important and getting more important as the numbers of people with Alzheimer’s is increasing exponentially as we all age, and congregations I think have a big part to play.”
Otherwise she keeps busy “typing away, typing away” writing a memoir of her husband’s 65 years of ministry.
Somehow she also fits in three gym sessions a week.
“I am as fit as can be,” Joan said.
“I don’t want to slow down.”
The Synod’s Victorian Archives is keen to hear from people interested in regularly volunteering at its base in Malvern East.
Volunteers can assist on various projects, including helping research the extensive collection of archival photos. Archives is in process of digitising the collection to make the images more accessible.
For more information contact Dr Jenny Bars on 03 9571 5476.