Volunteering keeps Mary connected

Mary and the other volunteers hard at work.

It’s Wednesday night at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Maroochydore and Mary Norris is hard at work.

At her station, she peels the vegetables for the weekly community dinners offered to anyone who needs a meal, company and a welcoming place.

It’s a highlight of her week.

“I look forward to it, every Wednesday night we’re on, because I’m with a nice bunch of ladies and we have a nice crowd of people come in,” she said.

The small kitchen is bustling with volunteers and benches are stacked with ingredients, many donated by local businesses and organisations.

Mary, 101, has been a stalwart of the kitchen roster for about 13 years.

“The first day it opened, I came in and started with them,” she said.

“I’d come up here and retired and I just wanted to get out and do some charity work.

“I lost my husband at an early age — he was a returned (service) man — so I’ve had to look after myself since then.”

When the doors open, community members stream in for a feed and a friendly chat with Mary as she serves up at the counter.

“It’s company for me, and I feel I’m doing something to help someone who needs it.

“I just hope I can keep doing it for a bit longer.”

At 101, she even credits her health and independence to her volunteering habit, refusing to give it up for any reason so trivial as age.

“Keep on doing what you’re used to doing,” she said.

“I think when you start saying ‘I can’t do it’, then you decide you won’t do it.”

Mary is just one of the community champions appearing in a mini-documentary video series spreading the stories of inspirational people contributing to the Sunshine Coast Biosphere.

So what is the Sunshine Coast Biosphere?

The Sunshine Coast Biosphere is not just a place; it’s a commitment to a sustainable future of caring for our environment, growing our local economy and creating a strong community.

In a strong community, everyone is included and treated with respect and opportunities are available for all.

The Sunshine Coast Biosphere celebrates the connections that forge a strong community where people belong together: connected to nature, to each other, and to a common goal of a sustainable future for everyone.

Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2022, the Sunshine Coast community has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability with this international recognition, becoming part of a global network of Biosphere Reserves showcasing how communities and nature can thrive together.

Implementing plans such as the Sunshine Coast Community Strategy is one way Council contributes to the Biosphere.

While Mary is the vegetable peeler, others in the kitchen have their own ways to contribute.

“We’ve all got our own certain jobs we get into, and we always automatically do them of a night. “You just come in and start,” she said.

The volunteers are helping create a strong community, built on the understanding that we all have ways to connect, care and support each other and when people feel valued they can participate and contribute to community life.

“I think you just respect people and treat them properly,” Mary said.

“If you always speak well to them, you always get the same things back to you.”

Like Mary, everyone can contribute in some way to the Sunshine Coast Biosphere, whether at work, home or enjoying the outdoors.

Opportunities for volunteers of all kinds

Mary says volunteering has helped her keep happy, healthy, social and active in the community.

Inspired by Mary’s volunteer spirit the council volunteer program offers a range of volunteering opportunities including environment visitor centres, local heritage, libraries and more.

It also supports Volunteering Sunshine Coast, where volunteer opportunities can be explored for organisations across the region. Find both programs online or contact the council.

Other News

Laidley Spring Festival to sparkle with Spring Magic

Shopping for beautiful blooms, presentations by guest speakers, hands-on workshops, and fossicking for precious gemstones are just a few of the exciting activities planned...

Prioritising aesthetic outcomes for skin cancers in cosmetically sensitive areas.

When diagnosed with a skin cancer in a cosmetically sensitive area it is important that patients are given the opportunity to explore all treatment...

We can’t find the will

Occasionally upon the death of a person, the location of their original Will may be unknown. There are practical steps to be taken such...

Stay safe this winter

It’s that time of year again. The breeze is feeling cool and thermometer dips. Jumpers are on and PJ’s are long. It’s no surprise that...

Country music festival becomes more accessible

The Gympie Music Muster, 22-25 August is now more accessible than ever thanks to their partnership with the Endeavour Foundation for the 2024 event. Muster...