Coming full circle

Meet Norma Russell, who has spent her whole life volunteering and is ironically living at the facility she has loved and fundraised for most of her life!

Norma is a resident of Uniting AgeWell Kings Meadows Community Aldersgate and before that lived at one of the lovely units at Uniting AgeWell Wesley Court Units in South Launceston.

She was one of the movers and shakers in the formation of what was first called Aldersgate Facility and is now Uniting Age Well Kings Meadows Community.

Norma recalls, "I was at the first meeting where it was decided that we needed a home to support older people in Launceston."

In her younger days, Norma was a highly active member of the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF) and was at one stage secretary and president of the Uniting Church Guild which was made up of all the local churches and their support groups.

"Every month one of the church organising support groups would visit Aldersgate and provide afternoon tea for the residents," Norma recalls. "They would bring fancy tablecloths, fancy crockery, and of course special treats like sandwiches, cakes and scones with jam and cream. The room would be set up and residents would gather for these monthly social events and entertainment."

There was a huge amount of fundraising by the Guild to support the aged care facility. The church ran its Harvest Festival, where large amounts of fruit and veggies were donated to the facility.

"Nothing was ever wasted," Norma recalls. "At the end of the apple season car loads of members would visit the orchards and pick the windfall apples and take them to Aldersgate. Members would take over the kitchen and these apples would be peeled, stewed, bottled, made into apple sauce, and anything else an apple could be used for throughout the year. We couldn’t do this today, but it worked back then!"

The group also sold buttons on the street, often in terrible weather, to raise money. They held regular stalls at Patterson Street Church and the 7EX Fair at the Albert Hall to fundraise for incidentals at the aged care facility.

"I was personally famous for my apple cakes and at our last fundraiser had people ordering them before the stall opened, so they wouldn’t miss out," Norma says. "I was also a dab hand at making lollies."

Norma recently visited the Wesley Court independent retirement village and found that Kathleen was still caring for her three-legged stray cat.

Her love of volunteering runs deep. For the last couple of years, Norma has been knitting trauma bears for children at the hospital who have suffered trauma in their lives.