Mary celebrates 40 years of volunteering
LOCAL Ballina resident Mrs Mary Coleman still has a spring in her step, which she says is thanks to more than 40 years of volunteering with Vinnies.
"Research shows that those who volunteer live happier and healthier lives, and I can certainly attest to that," Mrs Coleman said.
Mrs Coleman is just one of about 60 volunteers who generously contribute their time, skills and passion to help keep the Vinnies shop in Ballina running like clockwork Monday to Saturday each week to raise much -needed funds to help those who need a hand up in their community.
"I joined Vinnies back in the '70s when I was living in Casino - my children had started school so I had some free time and wanted to give back to the local community," she said.
"I really like walking so I decided that I would walk to and from Vinnies each time I was rostered on"
"That was 40 years ago and I'm still walking to the shop today - it's only 20 minutes each way but it helps to keep me healthy."
"At the age of 81, I'm more active now than I have ever been, plus I like being on my feet in the shop, helping customers and keeping busy."
"Volunteering has had such a positive effect on my physical health and it's so special to know that as part of the Vinnies team, we are making a real difference to the lives of people in need," Mrs Coleman added.
Vinnies is currently looking for volunteers in its Ballina, Mullumbimby, Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads, Murwillumbah, Kingscliff and Evans Head shops.
If you are interested in volunteering with Vinnies at its shops across the Northern Rivers region, please contact Shaya, Member and Volunteer Support Officer, on 0428977454 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ORIGIN OF VINNIES
St Vincent De Paul founder: Frederic Ozanam
The 1830s in Paris brought the collapse of the old Bourbon monarchy which had dreams of strengthening the throne with the support from the Church.
Religion was on the decline and atheism increasing;
Large numbers of the country people were moving to the cities to find work in the factories.
Many arrived to discover that there was no work, little pay or that the factories were closed due to revolution.
In 1832 an epidemic of cholera swept through Paris killing up to 1200 people each day.
Large slums areas were forming in Paris; thousands of people lived without work, some without clothes, and many alcoholic.
Homelessness, disease, and starvation were common.
A young student, Frederic Ozanam had to walk through the poorer suburbs on his way to university lectures each day and he soon became deeply moved at the hopeless state of families who had been left without the support of their breadwinners after the epidemic.
It was the taunt of an anti-religious opponent in a debating society founded by the students that stung him to action:
"You are right Ozanam when you speak of the past! In former times Christianity worked wonders, but what is it doing for mankind now?
"And you, who pride yourself on your Catholicity, what are you doing now for the poor?
"Show us your works."
Frederic Ozanam gathered a few friends around him and on April 23, 1833, they met to decide what they could do to assist the poor.
After the meeting Frederic and his flat mate took the remainder of their winter wood supply and gave it to a widow.
These young men attracted the comment "What can seven young men hope to achieve in alleviating the suffering of Paris?"
Fortunately Ozanam paid little heed to their comments, determined to satisfy his own conscience.
The small group decided to adopt the name The Society of St Vincent de Paul after the Patron Saint of Christian charity.
They sought the advice of Sister Rosalie Rendu, aSr Rendu introduced the young men to people they could assist.
They agreed to meet weekly to strengthen their friendship and to respond to needs of those they served.