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Friday, June 21, 2024

Barbara marks 50 years of Meals on Wheels volunteering

Meet Barbara Stewart, who has served as a Meals on Wheels volunteer for an extraordinary 50 years.

Meals on Wheels provides nutritious pre-cooked and package meals to assist residents live independently in their homes. Over the past five decades, Barbara has delivered meals and provided companionship for hundreds of Meals on Wheels clients.

Barbara was acknowledged for her tremendous service during Sydney’s The Hills Shire Council’s recent Volunteer Thank You Night at the Pioneer Theatre, which included a service award presentation and a free performance of Ghost The Musical performed by Blackout Theatre.

Barbara says she started volunteering with Meals on Wheels in February 1974 when her daughter started school at Baulkham Hills North.

“I went to a mothers club meeting that some parents were having and I came across an old friend who I knew from primary school,” she said.

“She told me that she was doing Meals on Wheels and asked me if I would like to help. I later found out that she only lived around the corner from me and I had no idea.”

She says she found the work enjoyable and interesting and says people were very kind.

“I remember visiting someone in Uniting Wirreanda who grew brown rice in Griffith to sell! Some people you met couldn’t be happier to see you.”

Back in the early days of her volunteering, Barbara used to deliver meals Monday to Friday.

“We also used to deliver more meals than today. We used to be able to bring our children with us on the runs back then too. Well, we had to because back then you couldn’t send your kids to daycare before the age of four. The clients were only too pleased to see the children, who often became fond of them too.”

She says it’s the people she has met along the way that have kept her volunteering for half a century.

“I have met some lovely people over the years.”

“My husband said that he would help me, then I thought, ‘well maybe I can make it to 50 years or something close to it’. I was determined to get to a certain number before I ran out of steam.

“I don’t think I’ll last another 50 years but I would like to keep on going as long as I can. That’s of course if they still let me.”

To browse current volunteering opportunities within The Hills, visit: www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Community/Support-Services/Volunteering.

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