Here’s Story 23 in our JNC 45 Years 45 Stories series to celebrate the work of The JNC.
To celebrate 45 years of working in our communities, we’re sharing the stories of 45 of the few thousand people we work with each year. Read about the difference The JNC has made for them.
Read stories 1-22 below.
23 – Brian’s story
For well over ten years Brian has loved coming to The JNC every week because it gets him out of the house for a chat and cup of tea and a biscuit, and, as he says,“It’s fun!” Brian also enjoys The JNC’s Garden Walk & Talk in Bondi Junction every Monday afternoon.
22 – Maria’s story
“I was looking forward to being retired, as I had plans for what I wanted to do: my bucket list included travels, hobbies, lunch with families and friends, etc. But what I did not realise was that being retired would also give me lots of time alone. I suddenly found myself in new territory with a lot of time pondering on my thoughts, and realised that I had lost the camaraderie of my workmates, colleagues and friends. Life was suddenly very slow, lonely, boring, repetitive and negatively overwhelming.
I have been a participant at the JNC Maroubra for a couple of years now and I am happy that this place exists. I have joined yoga, meditation and tai chi groups in the past and at present I am in the walking group with Ruth. I am looking forward to accessing more classes and activities run by them. Through The JNC, I have met new friends who are from diverse backgrounds, and I sometimes go out with them for coffee, lunches, outings etc. We talk about our retirement, fears, happiness, boredom, life. We consider ourselves the young seniors and there is still a lot that we can do and achieve. With this in mind, I would like to thank The JNC for being there for us, for being supportive and friendly and for giving us a new lease on life. We are, after all, the young seniors.” Maria, JNC 45 #22
21 – Diana’s story
“I have been a volunteer for over thirty years, the past ten with The JNC.
Volunteering in the community has enabled me to meet many people who have faced their problems bravely and helped each other.”
20 – Irene’s story
“About a year ago I moved to Australia from England to be with family. I had to leave behind my home, my relatives, and my lifelong friends.
I was very lonely.
And then I heard about The JNC, and I signed up for their social outings and individual social support. Now I’m busy, I’m active; despite mobility issues I can get out and about. I spend most weekdays seeing new places, meeting new people, developing new friendships, enjoying the company of the JNC staff.
I’ve settled in. The JNC has transformed my life.” Irene, JNC 45 #20
19 – Mera’s story
Mera has been attending The JNC’s English conversation class for more than nine years. Mera says, “It was a very good and humane idea to set up the Junction Neighbourhood Centre 45 years ago. The JNC keeps people, especially emigrants, supported for many needs.The staff is friendly, respectful and attentive. They are ready to answer your questions and really help. It seems their goal is to make us happy. In the English Conversation class we learn English in a warm atmosphere. We have found friends here, and it decorates and enriches our life. Our brilliant teacher and friend involves us in current events, we’re interested in the history of Australia. And we are proud to be a part of Australian society.” Mera, JNC 45 #19
18 – Bruce’s story
Bruce has been volunteering with The JNC for 7 years , assisting in many areas – with phone support, individual social support and bus outings for older people, and with a monthly “Young at Heart” Barbeque.
Bruce says, “Volunteering is:
Enjoyment in helping people
Giving back a little to society
Fun time with clients
Rewarding.” Bruce, JNC 45 #18
17- Zoe’s story
“Growing up in the eastern suburbs (Chifley) I wasn’t familiar with The JNC until I was introduced through the mother’s group I was attending with my son Leroy in 2012. When Barbara O’Neill from The JNC was a guest speaker at playgroup she asked if I was interested in participating in a series of workshops on learning how to start up your own business. After completing this program ‘Biz Sisters’ I am confident to say I am capable to one day start my own business. I was so pleased with the learning environment during the Biz Sisters program. The staff and students allowed me to bring along my young child while studying, with no judgement, and always supported me.
In 2017 I was excited to hear from The JNC that another program was being run, a program supporting Aboriginal women and women with Aboriginal children, called ‘Gathering the Dots’. I joined the program, hearing it was designed to help women recognise and learn about social isolation and access services and support with confidence. During this program I realised the passion I have to work with the community and knew I needed to start my journey. After completing this amazing program I was asked if I was interested in co-facilitating and I was more than happy to do so. Becoming a volunteer and working alongside Barbara, I made the decision to enrol into a community services course. And now I am co-founder of Namatjira Dreaming, a community development group in Namatjira in Chifley, and I am very grateful for the opportunities and support The JNC has given me.” Zoe, JNC 45 #17
16- Anne’s story
“Volunteering with The JNC has made a significant change in my life. When I retired I found time just dragged, but with volunteering my time just flies. My time spent with clients either in their home or on outings is very special; they all have such wonderful stories to tell and the enjoyment they get out of company is very special. I have had home visits with an author of children’s book who in later life became blind. She wanted to finish a story she had started many years ago and asked me if I would help her. We spent many hours at the computer with me transcribing her audio tapes and she completed the story 6 weeks before she passed away at the age of 95. My next client was also in her 90s and also partly blind; she used to like to go for drives to places she remembered and have me describing the scenery and changes that had taken place. She was especially fond of donuts so each fortnight we would have coffee and donuts. I’ve also spent many happy hours with a woman in her 90s, chatting about her early life in country NSW.
I look forward to the bus outings The JNC runs as we have a lovely group of senior citizens who look forward to their trips.
I have also completed many courses associated with working in the age care sector and have found them very useful. All in all my time with The JNC has been most enjoyable and I feel that in some small way I am making a difference in people’s lives.” Anne, JNC 45 #16
15- Nun’s story
Nun has been participating in JNC groups, and volunteered for The JNC in our Community Kitchen program. Nun says, “JNC has helped a lot with everything. When I have felt stuck, overwhelmed, JNC has made me feel good, empowered me to achieve things and move forward. JNC is like family.”
14- Linda’s story
Since April 2014, Linda has been volunteering with The JNC as an English Conversation Group tutor. Linda says, “Volunteering with The JNC helps me live my life more authentically and with a purpose that aligns with my passion and what I believe is important.
It gives me an insight into the needs of people in the community, especially those of migrants; a sense of fulfilment by giving and gaining deep human connection.
It allows me to bring my own personality into what I do, to develop new skills, discover abilities and try new initiatives.
A very positive feeling of being appreciated.”
13- Betty’s story
Betty has gone out with The JNC on social and shopping outings for the past 6 years. She says, “It gives me independence — without these programs I wouldn’t have the confidence to go out. The people that are involved in the program are all very helpful and respectful.”
12- Genya’s story
For several years Genya has been consulting The JNC for advice on and support with her family situation.
Genya says, “I am the primary carer for two grandchildren who are now aged 10 and 11 years. My granddaughter has profound disabilities and requires 24/7 support.
The JNC provides very good support for my family problems. It means a lot to me.
Without this support it would be very hard.”
11 – Wolf’s story
Wolf has volunteered with The JNC for 13 years with our one on one shopping service, shopping group,
brunch group, bus outings and gardening group – and as a handyman.
Wolf says, “I like meeting new people and helping one on one or in a group setting.
I like helping people. It helps them have a better life, and gives them and me a reason for getting up in the morning.
It helps me to be more compassionate and caring, helps me grow as a person, and makes me feel good about myself.”
10 – Trixie’s story
Trixie says, “I look forward to Mondays!
The shopping trip with The JNC is always enjoyable. It gets me out of the house and talking to other people.
My trip always includes going to a post office with the JNC staff member, who’s great company.”
9 – Ruth’s story
“I live in Coogee and have been in the Eastern Suburbs around 20 years. I’ve been volunteering at Centennial Park – weeding, planting. It’s such a beautiful space, a wonderful resource, and I love giving back to it.
I love being outdoors, I walk every day. So about 18 months ago I joined The JNC as the Walking Group volunteer. I was looking for volunteer work and it seemed like my cup of tea.
Having the support of The Heart Foundation and The JNC makes it easy to run the group. The JNC offers a place the group can meet – in Maroubra on Tuesday mornings. They promote the group, and provide someone to help out.
A lovely bunch of people attend. It’s been great to see our numbers grow steadily. I really love that the group is so multicultural; I think everyone in the group enjoys it. Everyone walks and talks to everyone, learns something.
Running this group has helped me learn a lot more about the streets of Maroubra. And the group has made me feel more connected; I feel a lot closer to the community.” Ruth, JNC 45 #9
8 – Hossein’s story
Hossein attends one of The JNC’s four English Conversation classes weekly. These popular classes are run by volunteers – Deanne, who featured in Story 5, is Hossein’s teacher.
Hossein says, “I come from Iran, where I was a teacher.
English has been very difficult for me. Then three years ago I started attending The JNC’s English conversation class.
It’s the best place for me. This is the first class where I can understand. My English has improved. I have learnt everything!
I enjoy coming here. They are very friendly at The JNC.” Hossein, JNC 45 #8
7 – Shivagni’s story
Shivagni has been volunteering with The JNC since March, offering one-on-one tutoring as part of our Be Connected program to support people in gaining skills with their digital devices. She also volunteers with The JNC’s Aged Services. Shivagni says, “I tutor people on using their mobiles, laptops and computers.
Volunteering has helped me find in myself a person who can make a difference in sharing knowledge, helping people know more about technologies and changes in software. The most interesting part is hearing people share their stories and learning from them.”
6 – Theo’s story
Theo has been blind for five decades. He lives independently, and to support his independence he has accessed The JNC’s Individual Social Support service since April 2008. He is a keen cook and cooks regularly for his family and friends, goes for at least two walks a day with his guide dog, stays fits and eats well. Together with The JNC he does his shopping and banking, cooks, and cares for his dog.
Theo says, “The JNC’s social support service has been like manna from heaven, it facilitates my existence. It has given me lots of confidence and allows me to contribute to my own upkeep.”
5 – Deanne’s story
“Volunteering has enabled me to connect directly to the community and hopefully help to make it a better place by offering help to people. At The JNC, I volunteer as an English Conversation Class tutor and with the Phone Support service. Phone support is for our older clients who access our social support service fortnightly, to ensure they have continuity of service weekly.
I feel truly appreciated by my English Conversation Class students. They constantly tell me that they are learning more English than ever and that they are having fun in class.
Some members of the group cook treats for the class as they feel a sense of wellbeing and belonging. The feeling is very infectious; they feel positive and so do I.
My phone support groups can be really distressing and also very uplifting. Some of the people I speak to haven’t had contact with another person for days and they are so appreciative to be heard.
I also really enjoy the team at The JNC and appreciate the sense of trust that they offer to me personally. As a Volunteer at JNC, I have experienced great leadership and support, which has led to great personal satisfaction.” Deanne, JNC 45 #4
4 – Tracey and Janice’s story
I didn’t know about the service and how many loving people there are at The JNC. But since I started with them, I’ve never looked back.
Before The JNC, I had to do the shopping every day, manage the trolley. We went out for family events, but not on outings. Now I go on outings with them and have the shopping service.
They encouraged us to use other services as well, to help with household duties and organisation.
Mum comes out with me to the group outing and this has been wonderful for her as everyone is so nice and it gets her out of the house. We’ve made friends, and we know in 5 years’ time we’ll still be friends because they’re all nice people.
The JNC means the world to me. Everybody treats me with dignity and is so kind.
Life is easier now. We feel a hundred per cent better.” Tracey, JNC 45 #4
3 – Kevin’s story
“I am the volunteer Justice of the Peace for The JNC. I offer my regular Tuesday service at The JNC’s centre in Maroubra.
For me, having meaningful work is very important. I have a double Master’s Degree in Accounting and Information Services, a Diploma in Counselling and a Diploma in Library Services. I was working with an FCPA qualification until I contracted a serious illness, with long term effects on my health. This impacted on my ability to find work. It’s very hard to get a job. Employers aren’t keen to employ people with a disability. But if I have a job I can find my value.
Volunteering with The JNC gives me a chance to meet people and contribute to the community. I can give value to the community. It gives me some purpose and keep me busy. It keeps me safe and I know someone will check on me if I don’t arrive at The JNC.
And I feel part of the team. The staff make volunteers feel welcome. They provide resources and help me plan the day by telling me who has called about coming in.
These days there are not many JPs, and many people need them. So, people see me offering my service and they feel very happy — and then I feel happy!” Kevin, JNC 45 #3
2 – Lee’s story
“I have been volunteering at The JNC’s centre in Bondi Junction since 2015.
I look forward to Mondays, where anyone can pop in for a cuppa. There’s Gardening group and we colour in mandalas and play games.
I love Thursdays, when I have a Beading group. We have a singalong, discuss all sorts of things. Also Knitting group: we learn, have a laugh and great company!
I very much enjoy my work interacting with people of all sorts of ages, culture and stories. So much learning from each other and kindness and help from everyone, staff and volunteers!” Lee, JNC 45 #2
1 – Jeanalyn’s story
How The JNC made a difference to me:
I have been with The JNC’s Family Support program for over a year.
Just over 12 months ago I gave birth to my first child. Being from overseas I had no family and only a few friends in Australia. I was a single mother and felt very much alone.
I was given The JNC’s number. I was more than pleasantly surprised at The JNC staff’s level of empathy, care and kindness.
They supported me and also referred me to a service where I was given clothes, pram, a bassinet, car seat, cot plus other baby items to get me started as a new mum.
I appreciate and thank The JNC for the guidance, advice and support they have shown and given me – the support needed to get through a difficult time in my life.
I got through those dark days and know The JNC helped make that possible.
I am so glad I was given JNC’s number. I hope one day I can repay their kindness. Happy 45th Birthday JNC. I hope you have many more! Jeanalyn, JNC 45 #1
JNC 45 years 45 stories
THE JNC 45 years ago was begun as a great idea, with humble beginnings, by a group of very dedicated and feisty women volunteers who were concerned about poverty, loneliness and disadvantage and the shortage of welfare services in the Randwick LGA.
Joined by the Methodist Church in Maroubra and by Randwick Council in 1974, these volunteers started CHARM, the Community Help Association of Randwick Municipality, which has been providing information, support, social inclusion activities and locally driven services since then.
Over the years CHARM, which became RICC (Randwick Information and Community Centre) and then The JNC, moved to different homes, and provided different services, all targeted at vulnerable people in our community, and responding to different needs in the community. In more recent years our work has been taken into other local communities across Eastern Sydney.
The organisation grew over the decades and attracted funding for a wide range of services, but kept its focus on local services. A recurring theme throughout the these four and half decades is the role volunteers have played and still play, in our social justice based work and our increasingly person directed services.
We ask ourselves ‘what difference have we made?’ and it is rewarding when we reflect on that and hear people’s stories. Over 45 years, the tireless work of volunteers, the inspiration of those who have been on our Board, the passionate staff who have come with inspiration and ideas have brought us to where we are today, and to be better at being able to demonstrate the differences we made in people’s lives.
Please check this site weekly for another story in our JNC 45 Years 45 stories series.
– Janet Green, General Manager, The Junction Neighbourhood Centre