Calvary Cessnock’s Celebration of Service recognises 390 years of collective service

Katherine Ryan has been the welcoming face and voice behind the reception desk at Calvary Cessnock Retirement Community for the past 20 years.

It’s a pivotal and challenging role, but the Abermain mother and grandmother still loves her job.

2020 has been an especially challenging time, and Katherine has added COVID-19 screening, temperature checks and vaccination checks to her ‘meet and greet’ duties.

“I do like people and I like helping people. I think that is probably the main thing I get out of it, and I love the team that I work with. They are all of one mind in their aim of helping our elderly people that have become residents and part of our family here.”

She sees doing her bit to care for the residents as a privilege, and she is not alone.

Katherine was one of 30 nurses, care workers and support staff who were recognised for their dedication and service at Calvary Cessnock’s Celebration of Service event last Thursday.

Collectively, the group celebrated an amazing 390 years of dedicated service, care and achievement. Individually, recipients were recognised for their 35, 25, 20, 15, 10 and five-year service milestones.

The celebration coincided with 135 years since Calvary’s founders, the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, arrived in Australia and began their mission to care for the vulnerable in our communities.

Katherine was chuffed to be recognised, but also humbled.

“There are so many people here, whether they have been here for one year or 20 years or 35 years, they’re all doing a great job. They’re all here to support the residents.”

Deb Desmond agrees. Another 20-year recipient, Deb initially came to Calvary Cessnock to do a 12-month assistant in nursing traineeship, stayed and eventually took on further study. That included studying in her spare time for a Bachelor of Nursing degree from the University of Newcastle. She graduated in 2016 and has been working as a registered nurse ever since.

“That was quite a challenge, but I got through it,” she says with a smile.

“I still enjoy working here and I like working in aged care. I like the nature of it, it’s like a second family and you look after the residents like you would your own family.”

Manager Dyanne Johnston was full of praise for all of her staff, and of the extra effort that has been needed this year to keep everyone safe.

“It has certainly been a big and at times challenging year for everyone,” she said. “We really appreciate the support and understanding we have had from our residents and their families, and from the whole community.

“And it was lovely for staff that we could come together, albeit with restricted numbers and socially distanced, to celebrate those important milestones and achievements.”

Other milestone recipients this year were:

  • 35 years – Rosie Smith;
  • 25 years – Christine Forster;
  • 20 years – Elizabeth Houle, Lynette Genoli, Ann Hopkins, Kristine Small;
  • 15 years – Vanessa Davies, Angela McCarthy, Rebecca Pettit, Tina Woods;
  • 10 years – Lee Dean, Karly King, Bethany James, Ake White, Athena Lawson, Jane Blanche, Michelle Slade, Donna Farnham, Christine Clement, Kaylene Stacey, Denise Lance, Beverly Murray;
  • 5 years – Karen Shearer, Lisa Leonard, Leeanne Nella, Matthew Warrell, Stephanie Callan, Guerlie (Joy) Kensitt.

Click on the images below for captions.