First Volunteer at Calvary St Martin de Porres Celebrates 15 Year Milestone
9th May 2017
Maria Roberts has volunteered across the Hunter Region for most of her life. She is celebrating 15 years of service at Calvary St Martin de Porres Retirement Community in Waratah.
The eldest of six, Maria grew up on the family beef farm and horse stables at Gosforth. Maria’s family were always close. She spent time looking after her grandmother to which she attributes her love of aged care.
Maria was always interested in science and math so decided to start studying at Tafe as an industrial chemist. She worked at the Tubemakers in Mayfield for 12 years before moving onto beauty therapy at Beresfield. Soon after Maria decided to study aged care. As part of the certificate Maria had to complete work experience in an aged care facility. She completed this at a facility in Mayfield and developed a love for caring for the elderly.
It was at this stage of life that Maria met her husband of 21 years, Garry. “I wouldn’t have met my amazing husband if I didn’t choose this journey”.
Alongside her studying Maria started volunteering across various organisations. Maria volunteered at Meals on Wheels for 10 years and helped around her local church. She also started collecting rubbish from the streets of Newcastle for which she was recognised by both the local Rotary club and the Newcastle City Council.
In 2002 Maria approached Calvary St Martin de Porres to start volunteering. “My Aunt was in respite care at St Martins at the time. I thought it looked like a lovely facility to volunteer at so I approached the team”. Maria became the very first volunteer at the Waratah aged care facility.
Maria helps support the Leisure and Lifestyle program by facilitating activities, taking residents on outings and chatting with them. She also organises individual activities for resident who may have developed new interests like art or beading. She joked “I love dressing up for the residents. They like seeing me just to see what I am wearing each time”.
“Seeing them smile and knowing you made a difference in their lives is a great feeling. I have developed many great friendships at Calvary St Martins. I love sharing my story with them and hearing theirs”.