Miss Bloomhill Op Shop 2019
EVERY one of Bloomhill Cancer Centre's 10 Op Shops has received the magic touch of volunteer Elaine Funch.
After 18 years Elaine, 79, has retired from her volunteer activities. But you never know; there might be just one more Op Shop that down the track needs the her help to get it set-up and started.
She hasn't done it all alone. "I couldn't have done it without my husband Trevor," Elaine said.
Both have been touched by cancer; Elaine by breast cancer and Trevor by prostate cancer. "I liked the idea that Bloomhill is a support centre," Elaine said.
It all started quite innocently. "Where I lived in Buderim, Bloomhill were just starting an Op Shop," Elaine explained. "I went in with some donations and while there one of the staff said, 'if you want to volunteer, you should come along'."
She put her hand, but little did she know what that one action would lead to.
The people-person quickly found her previous working life skills came into play.
Elaine and Trevor were involved in a variety of businesses across northern Queensland. She managed recreation centres and gyms, worked as a town librarian and cleaned the shire offices, while Trevor moved from being a fireman to managing swimming pools.
"While we were at Longreach I started the first Girl Guides company out there," she said. "I learnt a lot about being prepared."
Elaine started with dusting and rearranging the shop shelves. With a tight budget to work with, she gradually came up with innovative and attractive ways to display the shop goods.
Soon it was three days a week in the shop and then time on the volunteer Bloomhill management committee.
Once a CEO was appointed the momentum increased for Elaine who was tasked with setting up the Cooroy shop from scratch.
"I have to be doing something so I agreed that my husband and I contribute," Elaine said.
"We said would will give it six months and paid me for a day and a half.
"We would set-up the shop, train the staff and get it going. Sometimes six months turns into nine months. I think we have done a year in one of the shops."
She designed the shops and then drew in a volunteer carpenter to do the fixtures. Her husband did the painting. Then Elaine sourced the stock from the Bloomhill warehouse.
She worked to a plan and then put in place the procedures so the manager and volunteer staff know what to do.
Trevor in the meantime coloured-coded hundreds and hundreds of hangers, priced the stock, and trained new volunteers working on the front counter.
In total Elaine and Trevor have set-up from scratch five shops and had a hand in the presentation of the another five.
Now the shops have a modern, boutique look. The stock, which is turned over every month, has a reputation for being well-priced and high quality. "If you come to our shops you are going to get value for money," Elaine said.
"I have kept a journal on how many clothes and shoes you need to start the shop up, how many coat hangers, etcetera. Our CEO is going to get someone to talk to me and we are going to set the journal out."
There is a Bloomhill Op Shop close to where Elaine and Trevor are now living. It's just 10 minutes walk from her home. "If I get bored, that's where I will go," the chirpy senior said.