MEDA has awarded the following volunteers life membership due to their extraordinary commitment to MEDA:

Merrilyn Shepherd

Merrilyn has worked with Carolyn as a Volunteer Citizen Advocate for over 20 years and has been on the Committee of Management for years.

Why do you volunteer for MEDA?

I volunteer as a Citizen Advocate because I believe we all need companionship and the joy it brings and when I am with Carolyn I receive that joy fourfold.

Without family to provide warmth and fellowship people can become very isolated and it has been an honour to fill the gap as family. It is like having another niece.

What have been your volunteer roles with MEDA?

I have been on the Committee of Management for many years now and had the honour of being President. It is where I met Carolyn my partner in the program. She has been voice of those with an intellectual disability for a very long time. I was asked to help her at a time when there were changes in Carolyn’s accommodation and she was rather anxious about where she would be living in the future. We have had lots to talk about over the years.

What is one memorable time as a volunteer with MEDA?

There have been many great times but I guess one that stands out is when the decision was made to move the Committee Meetings to Carolyn’s home. To see her as our hostess and to watch her as she cared for us was a great thrill and I thank the Committee for accepting the invitation.

Chris Howell

Why do you volunteer for MEDA?

I saw this an opportunity to help those who otherwise simply “miss out” on the things we very much take for granted. I was very keen and focussed on giving something back into our local community and if that resulted in the opportunity to welcome someone from within the “MEDA Community” into my family and my network of friends then it is a pleasure and a privilege to do so.

What have been your volunteer roles with MEDA?

Many and varied: President, Committee Member, Fundraiser Member, Recruitment, Bunnings BBQ expert! And Advocate which involved advocating in times of need with Residential Staff, DHS, purchasing of equipment, organising of holidays and events.

What is one memorable time as a volunteer with MEDA?

So many positive and warm experiences. It simply makes you feel good to be alive and enjoying life that you can have such a positive impact on a lovely person like Randall.

Ella Keesing

I became involved with MEDA, then Citizen Advocacy in around 1985 as I had just finished a Graduate Diploma in Special Education at Deakin Uni. I had studied a subject titled Citizen Advocacy and the lecturer, Trish O’Brien, believed it should be a practical subject, so paired each student with a person with intellectual disability person. Our task was to research activities and experiences that we could share together. At the end of the course I was to write a report and the association finished. However all my family decided we would continue to support Jimmy who lived in a Community Residential Unit (CRU) having spent his childhood at Kew Cottages.

I found MEDA was an organisation which offered down-to-earth and practical support as well as a network to discuss problems and successes. It offered information sessions, social activities, movie nights, dinner opportunities as well as ongoing informal support.

In many ways my work with Jimmy involved providing a family atmosphere – impromptu meals when we could all get together, grandchildren coming along – an opportunity for Jimmy to see babies and interact, participating in the MEDA and CRU events, introducing manual signs to staff at CRU, providing communication boards for Jimmy to communicate as his speech was very difficult to understand (particularly important when he was hospitalised suddenly after a fall), socialising with Jimmy and his mother when contact was finally made with one family member.

Jimmy sadly passed away in 2018, but I have continued my contact with Jimmy’s mother. She is now in an Assisted Care home but my daughter and I take her out for coffee or lunch. We have been connected with Jimmy’s family for over 35 years.

Rosemary Chivers

I met Carol in 1985 when I worked in her house as a Supervisor. Carol and I enjoyed each other’s company from the beginning. When I left two years later I decided to officially become her Advocate therefore allowing myself to continue being a part of her life. For 36 years Carol and I comfortably & happily spent time together.

Over the years we shared each other’s family & friends, shopping trips, weekends way, dinners and many walks. As we both started getting older we changed some of our time together to more gentle pursuits like drives and movies.

Carol was very fortunate in the house she lived with her house mates and good staff.

Carol had a wonderful sense of humour, a kindness for others and a loyalty to those in her life.

Carol passed away in March 2020. I miss her.

Brian Leeming

I joined MEDA about 20 years ago and was introduced to a little Italian chap called Alf Di Palma who was born in San Lupo, Italy. Alf lived in a nursing home in Clayton at the time and could get around using a walking frame. Later, he used a wheelchair. We used to go to the local shopping centre and have a coffee and donut and Alf would talk about his favourite topics, football and cricket. Alf sadly died in March 2019. He gave me far more than I was able to give him.

Marcia Harriman
Julie Davison
Jane Sullivan
Carolyn Thomas

Greg Johnson

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