Old age can sneak up on you. Suddenly the children have grown up, your professional life is winding down and you’re asking yourself, what next?
In 1994, Marlene Keltie experienced a significant health event. She was in her fifties, and searching for purpose. So she decided to help establish Communities@Work’s Tuggeranong Women’s Neighbourhood Group and life hasn’t been the same for her since. 25 years later, Marlene is still planning and running weekly activities, such as knitting and crocheting Trauma Teddies and comfort rugs for children in care, fidget rugs and cushions for people living with dementia, ‘knitted boobs’ (official title) for women who have had a mastectomy; and creating dignity bags containing essential personal hygiene and grooming items for women experiencing homelessness.
The Canberra Hospital Foundation is a recipient of many of the hand-made items produced under Marlene’s guidance and tell us just how much of a difference they make to patients in the hospital, providing comfort in an environment that can be clinical and often frightening.
During ACT Seniors Week in March, Marlene Keltie was awarded the Senior Advocate Award at the 2019 COTA Positive Ageing Awards, which recognises an outstanding commitment by a person or group in advocating for seniors. The Council of the Ageing (COTA) Positive Ageing Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding older Canberrans and the individuals and organisations that work with, or for, them.
Ankin Ahmat (known as George) doesn’t think of himself as an ‘outstanding older Canberran’, but as the recipient of the Transport Services award at the 2019 Positive Ageing Awards, his service to the Canberra community is beyond doubt.
George joined Communities@Work’s transport team in 2005 and now works several days a week transporting clients to medical appointments, social and community activities and to do their shopping. George explains that providing transport is more than just driving someone from A to B. In George’s words, “sometimes you are the only person they have a conversation with that week. We are part of their bigger day, part of their family.”
Lee Maiden, Communities@Work’s Chief Executive Officer could barely contain her joy for the award recipients. “We are so proud and happy that Marlene and George have received this well-deserved recognition. Marlene and George are a lifeline for many people in our community and Communities@Work would like to thank them both for their ongoing service and for the difference they make every day to the lives of so many in our community.”
Marlene and George truly epitomise the Einsteinian sentiment, ‘only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile’. Giving back to your community is not only critical for the community but is enormously satisfying for the individual.
There are many ways to give back and support your local community, with Communities@Work providing a range of opportunities, including volunteering, fundraising, corporate partnerships and much more. If you would like to learn more about ways you can get involved, please visit the Communities@Work website.
Words and image by Chris Barry, Communities@Work.