‘Give Happy, Live Happy’ is the theme of National Volunteer Week, 9-15 May 2016 and we couldn’t find a volunteer that better fits this description than Ozcare’s very own Rae Meredith. Often referred to as the bag lady, Rae spends hours of her own time lovingly making Jazzy Bags to raise funds to benefit residents at Ozanam Villa Clontarf aged care facility.
The Jazzy Bags are Woolworths hessian bags that have been ‘jazzed’ up with fabric flowers and buttons. With 110 bags to her name, Rae said they are causing a bit of a sensation around the facility and in the local community.
“I am now getting inundated with orders,” said Rae. “Residents absolutely love them, they involve themselves as colour consultants, help by donating the fabric, buttons and cotton and even buy them for themselves and as gifts for their family - it has created quite a buzz around the facility.”
Ozcare’s Diversional Therapist Rekha Singh said the money Rae has raised from selling the bags is helping to fund extra activities for residents.
“Sales from the Jazzy Bags have meant that we have been able to book a Henny Penny Hatching program for residents in August,” said Rekha.
Not only does Rae make Jazzy Bags, she also volunteers her time at Ozanam Villa Clontarf on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.
“I like working with non-communicative residents,” said Rae. “A highlight of my time volunteering is a gentleman who can’t speak. We shake hands, share a love of footy and I even helped him write a Christmas card with a little message for his special lady - you should have seen his eyes light up and his face shine.”
Rekha said Rae is very engaging and gets so much out of the residents.
“Some residents don’t get many visitors and are bed bound,” said Rekha. “Rae takes the time to get to know the strengths and abilities of our residents and understand their limitations. She connects with them on a personal level, and remembers little things about them, which has a positive impact on their well-being.”
When asked what she thought about volunteering, Rae said: “Why wouldn’t you volunteer? I really, really enjoy it. I just think you do whatever you can to help - the staff are busy and it helps take the edge off for them plus you get so much back. I really am treated like one of the family here!”